School Climate & Safety

Two Students, Gunman Dead After Shooting at New Mexico High School

By Evie Blad — December 07, 2017 2 min read
Police escort buses moving students and faculty from Aztec High School after a shooting on Dec. 7 in Aztec, N.M.
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Two students are dead after a shooter entered a New Mexico high school near the Navajo Nation Thursday morning.

The gunman also died on the scene at the 900-student Aztec High School in Aztec, N.M, police said at an afternoon news conference. Authorities would not say if the gunman was shot by a law enforcement officer or if he killed himself, citing an ongoing investigation. Police also wouldn’t say if the shooter was a student; they confirmed only that he was male. They also declined to provide any details about the student victims, including their gender.

Also unanswered: what weapons were used in the attack and whether it took place in classrooms or common areas within the school. Officials from local law enforcement agencies and the New Mexico State Police said they would cooperate on the investigation and provide more details as soon as information is confirmed.

“It’s a dynamic scene,” State Police Chief Pete Kassetas said. “There’s a lot of stuff to go through. I can’t tell you where it started or where it ended right now.”

Gov. Susana Martinez said the state’s education department would provide $120,000 in emergency funding so that the district could provide social workers, counselors, and security to its schools.

She asked for the community to remember students who had spent their mornings “hiding in closets, and classrooms, and teachers’ offices, and under desks.”

“I cannot imagine experiencing what those kiddos, and teachers, and officers did today,” Martinez said.

She said teachers, staff, and law enforcement were to be commended for “acts of bravery” that “saved lives.” And she singled out the local police officers in Aztec, who said they arrived at the scene less than a minute after a 911 call, for climbing through windows when the school was in lockdown mode to get to the gunman.

The Aztec district will close all schools Friday, Superintendent Kirk Carpenter said, but staff members will work to coordinate counselors and social workers for students, including those who weren’t directly involved in the shooting.

“This isn’t something that will just affect those students,” he said. “Aztec is a small community. We shut down Main Street when it’s homecoming.”

Aztec High School does not provide any information online about its safety protocols, but it appears teachers responded to the threat with standard lockdown procedures. In interviews with local media, students described locking classroom doors and huddling out-of-view in corners.

Wade Parker, an #AztecHighSchool parent was one of the 1st at the school after his daughter texted him. He sent me this video he took of students getting walked out of the building. #aztecschoolshooting @koat7news #NM -- Megan Cruz (@MeganKOAT) December 7, 2017

“We obviously do drills, and you hope that nothing ever happens in a school,” Superintendent Carpenter said at the news conference. “When it does, it’s reaction. Our staff, even substitutes, reacted in a way that saved lives.”

Related reading about school shootings and school safety:

A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.