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September 23, 2003
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Wash. SWAT Team Shoots Student Who Fired Gun

By NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS, The Associated Press

SPOKANE, Wash. -- A 17-year-old student who was "angry at everything" fired a handgun in a high school science classroom before aiming the weapon at a SWAT team officer, who then shot and critically wounded him, police said.

The boy took no hostages and no one else was injured in the incident Monday. All of the approximately 2,000 other students, plus faculty and staff, were evacuated.

The student was shot shortly before 1 p.m. inside a third-floor classroom at Lewis and Clark High School, annually one of the top academic performers in the state. Classes were to resume Tuesday with crisis counselors present.

Police Chief Roger Bragdon said authorities don't know why the boy brought the gun to school and have found no motive.

Citing two students who know the boy and a police source who asked not to be identified, The Spokesman-Review identified him Tuesday as Sean Fitzpatrick, a junior.

The teen was in critical condition at Sacred Heart Medical Center, police said in a news release. The newspaper quoted the police source as saying the boy was hit in the face, arm and torso.

Bragdon said the student entered the classroom with a 9mm semiautomatic handgun, ordered a student teacher and several students to leave.

"He just walked in, stuck the gun in my face and told me to get out the room," Marjan Khoee, 35, an Iranian exchange student, told The Spokesman-Review. "I asked him, `Is everything OK?' He just calmly told me to get out of the classroom."

Shortly afterward, not knowing what was happening, senior Lee Pearson, 17, opened the door to the chemistry and physics lab and found a metal bookcase blocking the entrance.

"I was going to move it to get in there. As I looked up, standing five feet in front of me was the kid," Pearson told The Spokesman-Review. "He had a black pistol in his hand. He waved it as a signal to get me out of the room. I was kind of dumbstruck."

The boy fired once into a wall and sprayed the room with fire extinguishers, making it hard to see, the chief said. The first officers on the scene had the shooter contained inside the classroom minutes after the first call, Bragdon said.

Negotiators talked with the boy for more than an hour, and SWAT officers surrounded the classroom, Bragdon said.

"He was angry at everything. He was making threats about everything" but did not appear to be angry at any particular individual, Bragdon said.

The boy propped open the door with the bookcase to talk with officers. At about 12:45 p.m., the boy abruptly stopped talking, put on his jacket, climbed onto the file cabinet and raised a handgun at officers, leaving SWAT officers no choice but to shoot, Bragon said.

Evacuated students were bused to the nearby Spokane Arena, where their parents picked them up.

"The school district has practiced evacuation drills and it worked amazingly well," Bragdon said.

The incident ended quickly because the first officers to arrive immediately entered the school and went to the area where the student was holed up, Bragdon said.

The massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado, where law enforcement officers waited outside to assess the situation, has prompted police to make aggressive entries in such situations, he said.

Associated PressCopyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

"From Columbine, law enforcement has learned if you are going to stop anything and save lives, you've got to act immediately," Bragdon said






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