The area was left in shock following a shooting at Freeman High School on Wednesday morning, leaving one student dead and three others injured.
The sole suspect was taken into custody and taken to Spokane County Juvenile Detention, and law enforcement was expected to conduct a lengthy investigation into exactly what led up to the event.
The suspect and victims had not been named as of Wednesday afternoon’s press time. The three wounded teens were taken to Sacred Heart Medical Center and were listed in stable condition. One was expected to have surgery later that afternoon.
According to Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, the teenage male suspect entered the school with multiple weapons shortly after 10 a.m. He brought a gun out in the upstairs area of the school, and it jammed. He took out another weapon and was approached by a male classmate, who was then shot and killed.
The suspect then reportedly fired shots into the hallway, hitting the other victims.
“It was an isolated event,” Knezovich said at a press conference later in the day. “If the first weapon hadn’t jammed it would had been a lot worse than it was.”
Reports that came over police scanners and social media were chaotic in the hour or so following the incident, as it was unclear at first how many victims or suspects there actually were. Other local school districts – including the Central Valley School District – went into various modes of lockdown as facts began to trickle in.
State Route 27 was gridlocked from Freeman High School to the Palouse Highway as parents and concerned friends drove to the area. Many abandoned their cars along the highway and on side roads to monitor Twitter and Facebook feeds on their phones and also to walk to the school to meet with students.
Freeman Superintendent Randy Russell said “our hearts are broken in Freeman” and that school would be canceled on Thursday. Counselors would be on hand when classes let back in for students dealing with grief.
“Everyone in the community is coming together,” Russell said.
Freeman High School serves about 300 students south of the Spokane Valley. Students were interviewed by law enforcement prior to being released to parents and guardians to find out what they may have seen or heard prior to the incident.
Knezovich said the Freeman School District was clearly “prepared” and “made our job a lot easier.”
He said he does wonder, however, why school shootings happen at all.
“These are senseless and tragic events. I don’t understand them,” Knezovich said. “We need to deal with this as a society.”
Federal agents and law-enforcement officials from other jurisdictions also came to the scene to assist, and the investigation continues.