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High School Janitor Risks His Life To Stop A Deadly Shooting Rampage

KHQ TV

Armed with a pistol and rifle, the worst fear of students and parents unfolded in the halls of a high school in a small Washington state town.

When he tried to fire his first weapon and it jammed, "He went to his next weapon," Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said. "A student walked up to him, engaged him, and that student was shot. That student did not survive."

Three other students were seriously injured by the gunfire that broke out on Wednesday morning at Freeman High School, just south of Spokane in Washington.

More people could have been at risk, if it wasn't for one heroic member of the school's support staff.

Custodian Joe Bowen confronted the gunman and ordered him to stop shooting and surrender his weapon. This caused the shooter to pause long enough for a school resource officer to disarm him and take him into custody.

The husband and father put his life on the line for the students of the school .

State-mandated safety training teaches staff members and students to react quickly during emergencies, which could be part of the reason why this situation didn't get far worse.

“They practice evacuation, locking down and staying in their room in the event of a violent intruder in their school,” said Mark Sterk, Spokane Public Schools’ director of campus safety.

In addition, “we train ‘Run, Hide and Fight’ to all our staff,” Sterk said. “Getting the kids to a safe place is our No. 1 priority during an incident.”

These emergency drills help prepare students and staff for events such as earthquakes, tsunamis and shootings. The practice procedures have been part of the school's safety plan since 2008. In July, changes to state law required the drills to be played out monthly.

“We’re looking for every school to be prepared for an incident likely never to happen, but they have to be prepared in case it does,” he said.

With shots ringing out and bullets hitting the ceiling, there was mass hysteria as students ran down the halls to get away from the gunman.

The chaos broke out outside of the biology room in the school's second floor just before first period. He continued to move through the hallway firing his gun in the side grip position.

“His face was completely passive,” Elisa Vigil said. “He shot someone in the head. I crouched down in the hall. I looked up and a girl screamed, ‘Help me, help me, help me.’ The hall was empty. She was shot in the back. I looked to my right, and there was a boy and he was shot in the head.”

The suspect, Caleb Sharpe, a sophomore whose classmates identified him with being obsessed with previous school shootings, was taken into custody.

The shooter was said to have many friends and not suffer from bullying. Students said that he was a huge fan of the TV show "Breaking Bad", and had watched a lot of school shooting documentaries.

In a series of notes from the previous week, he warned his friends that he planned to do "something stupid."

This promise left Sam Strahan dead, and three others - Emma Nees, Jordyn Goldsmoth and Gracie Jensen in the care of medical professionals.

Fifteen year old Barratt Moland believed that Sharpe and Strahan were friends.

“I thought they hung out like every weekend,” Moland said.

Some believe that they had a falling-out recently.

Later that day the injured girls were listed in stable condition at hospital.

Students have returned back to the school to remember the victims and remind people that they are a strong, united front.

"We are strong together. We can get through this together," Kyla Landrum said.

Source: CBC / KHQ / Spokesman / Spokesman