October 21, 2013 8:54 pm
Updated: October 21, 2013 10:53 pm

Nevada school shooting: Student killed math teacher who was trying to protect kids

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SPARKS, Nev. – A middle school student opened fire on campus just before the starting bell Monday, wounding two boys and killing a math teacher who was trying to protect other children, Sparks police said Monday.

Chanda Landsberry says her 45-year-old brother-in-law, Michael Landsberry, died in the Monday morning shooting at Sparks Middle School.

Twenty to thirty students, most of them 12- and 13-years old, were witnesses to the tragedy that also left the lone suspected gunman dead, police said. It’s unclear whether the student committed suicide, but authorities say no shots were fired by law enforcement.

Police said between 150 and 200 officers, including some from as far as 96 kilometres away, responded to the shooting.

“In my estimation, he is a hero…We do know he was trying to intervene,” Reno Deputy Police Chief Tom Robinson said about the fallen staff member.

The motive isn’t yet known.

Watch: Reno police chief calls slain math teacher Michael Landsberry a hero


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“As you can imagine, the best description is chaos,” Robinson said. “It’s too early to say whether he was targeting people or going on an indiscriminate shooting spree.”

Students from the middle school and neighbouring elementary school were evacuated to the nearby high school, and classes were cancelled.

At the evacuation centre, parents walked with their arms around their children, some of whom were in tears.

“We came flying down here to get our kids,” said Mike Fiorica, whose nephew attends the school. “…It’s really chaotic. You can imagine how parents are feeling. You don’t know if your kid’s OK.”

The shooting happened on the school’s campus and ended outside the school building itself, according to police.

“I was deeply saddened to learn of the horrific shooting at Sparks Middle School this morning,” Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval said in a statement. Sandoval extended his thoughts and prayers to those affected.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid offered his condolences to students, parents and staff who experienced “a traumatic morning.”

“No words of condolence could possibly ease the pain, but I hope it is some small comfort that Nevada mourns with them. I stand by to be of any assistance if there is anything that can be done,” Reid said in a statement.

The school, located in a working class neighbourhood, enrolls about 700 students in 7th and 8th grades.

The violence erupted nearly a year after a gunman horrified the nation by opening fire in Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, leaving 26 dead. The Dec. 14 shooting reignited debate over how best to protect the nation’s schools and whether armed teachers should be part of that equation.

In a statement on the website of Sandy Hook Promise, a gun control advocacy group, Nicole Hockley, whose son Dylan was killed in the shooting, said: “It’s moments like this that demand that we unite as parents to find common sense solutions that keep our children-all children-safe, and prevent these tragedies from happening again and again.”

Watch: Community reacts to deadly school shooting in Sparks, Nevada

Washoe County School District held a session in the spring after the Connecticut tragedy to educate parents on what safety measures the district takes.

Sparks, a city of roughly 90,000 that sprung out of the railway industry, lies just east of Reno.

Mayor Geno Martini spoke at a morning news conference to assure residents that the community was safe.

“It’s a tragic day in the city of Sparks,” he said. “This is just an isolated incident.”

Chanda Landsberry says she’s not surprised at all that her brother-in-law stepped in to stop the rampage.

Michael Landsberry is a military veteran who leaves behind a wife and two stepdaughters.

Associated Press Writer Michelle Rindels contributed from Las Vegas.

© 2013 The Canadian Press

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