STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — A 13-year-old student shot and killed himself in a hallway at an Oklahoma junior high school before classes began Wednesday, police said, terrifying teenagers who feared a gunman was on the loose.
Staffers quickly locked down the school and evacuated the 700 eighth and ninth graders, along with students from an adjacent elementary school, to a safe location, police Capt. Randy Dickerson said. The boy was found dead in a hallway, Dickerson said.
Some students who fled the building said they found out it was a suicide from news reports. Other students who had witnessed the shooting spread word that a classmate had killed himself, police said.
Jake Green, 14, said he was among dozens of students who meet to pray every morning who heard the single shot ring out from an adjacent hallway about 10 feet away.
“We heard this loud boom and everyone just got quiet,” Green said. “No one said a word.”
A teacher yelled at the students to get out of the building and head to a playground at the elementary school, Green said.
“Everyone was really scared. We didn’t know if the kid shot himself or if there was a shooter outside the school who shot in,” Green said. “Everyone didn’t know what was going on, so they were screaming and running as fast as they could to get to the playground.”
Police didn’t say what prompted the shooting but said no other students were at risk.
“It doesn’t appear that anyone else was in danger or threatened,” Dickerson said.
Green said students who were already in their classroom were locked in the building for about an hour.
“It was really scary,” said Green, a ninth grader. “Everyone’s kind of traumatized and doesn’t know how to act or respond.”
Kenny Monday told The Associated Press that his son, Kennedy, heard the gunshot but did not witness the shooting.
“It’s so sad that the kid lost his life, but we’re just glad he didn’t shoot anyone else,” Monday said.
Stillwater Junior High sent a statement to parents saying there had been a “single shooting incident” at the school and that staff and students had been moved to a safe location. Parents were told to pick up their children at a nearby shopping center. Stillwater is located about 70 miles west of Tulsa.
Superintendent Ann Caine said counselors would be available for students.
“It is with a heavy heart that I inform you of a tragic incident at our (school) this morning,” Caine said in a letter to parents. “At 7:50 a.m. one of our students died as a result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. All other students and staff are safe.”
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