School Climate & Safety

Vermont Elementary Teacher Shot and Killed in Her Classroom

By Laura Greifner — August 25, 2006 1 min read

One teacher was killed and another wounded yesterday while they were preparing for the Aug. 30 first day of school at Essex Elementary School in Essex Junction, Vt.

While responding to a call at a residence, where the suspect allegedly shot and killed his first victim, police received a report of shots fired at the 400-student, preK-2 school. At the time, about 40 faculty and staff members were attending an in-service day to prepare for the first day of school, according to police.

A SWAT team member checks the playground outside Essex Elementary School after a teacher was shot and killed inside the Vermont school on Aug. 24.

Essex Police Department officials said law enforcement officers found the body of Mary Shanks, 56, a 2nd grade teacher, in her classroom at the school. A 1st grade teacher, Mary Snedeker, 52, was being treated for a gunshot wound.

The suspect, Christopher A. Williams, 26, was later taken into custody at a residence with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, according to Essex police officials. In total, the shooting spree at the school and in the community resulted in two people being killed and three others wounded, including Mr. Williams.

According to the Burlington Free Press, Mr. Williams was allegedly the former boyfriend of Andrea Lambesis, a teacher at the school. Mr. Williams allegedly shot and killed her mother, Linda Lambesis, before heading to the elementary school, which is located in northern Vermont near Burlington.

Emergency Procedures Followed

Local, state, and federal law-enforcement officers arrived at the school not long after 2 p.m. yesterday, the Free Press reported, as teachers and staff members hid in their classrooms until police could escort them outside to safety. Witness accounts report that Mr. Williams fired about five rounds of ammunition after he arrived at the school.

Teachers followed emergency protocol and barricaded themselves in their classrooms, but according to the Free Press, Essex police chief David E. Demag said the bullet that killed Ms. Shanks went through her classroom door.

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