Security guard confronted and delayed high school shooter -- at the cost of his life
By: JOSHUA FREED
BEMIDJI, Minn. -- A novice security guard who survived a student's shooting rampage at a high school described a frenzied scramble to warn students out of harm's way -- and credited a fellow guard with saving lives by sacrificing his own.
In an interview Wednesday with The Associated Press, LeeAnn Grant said Derrick Brun, 28, ignored her pleas to run, and rose from his desk to confront shooter Jeff Weise, 16.
"Derrick saved my life," the 20-year-old Grant said. "I know he bought me time by confronting Jeff, for me to even get that much farther away with the students. Derrick's my hero," she said. "He didn't even look scared. He didn't look worried. He knew what he was going to do."
Grant said she and Brun were working at the doors of Red Lake High School as usual on Monday. Three of the four doors were locked; the open door funneled students through a metal detector.
She described Weise stepping out of his grandfather's police truck -- taken after the boy had killed the man and his companion, according to authorities -- and sending two shotgun blasts into the air.
Just four years older than Weise, she had known him for years and recognized the 6-foot, 250-pound student at once. His black trench coat billowed open and Grant saw more guns on the boy's belt.
She had no gun, no bulletproof vest and a little girl and a little boy at home. She had just begun working as a security guard in August.
Outside, the gunman tried one door, then another.
"He looked right at me. I made eye contact with him," Grant said. The boy quickly found the open door.
"He walked in and fired another shot and I was telling Derrick, 'Come on, let's go. Let's go, Derrick. Run. We need to save these kids, we need to do something.' And I radioed in ... 'There's a guy coming in the school and he's shooting and he has a gun."'
"Derrick just sat there at his desk. ... He just kept staring at Jeff. I kept hollering for him to come with me. He wouldn't come, he just stayed there."
The noise drew students toward the front doors. Some thought maybe there was a fight, and they wanted to see, Grant said.
"I start yelling at them, 'Run! There's a guy with a gun here! Just run!' And then I took off to try to protect them," she said. "I turned back a little bit, and you could see Derrick kind of getting up, going right toward Jeff. And then I heard two shots again."
Other witness accounts indicate that's when Brun was killed.
"I just ran," Grant said.
There was no refuge. Like most schools after Columbine in 1999, Red Lake High School had a system for securing the school in case of violence. Alerted to trouble, its teachers locked the classroom doors, as they were trained.
Still, Grant tried to open some doors to get in and hide. Other students did the same. None opened. Grant's keys were back by the front door.
"I told them, 'Never stop running. Don't look back no matter what."'
Grant ran, too, with bullets striking the wall as she went. A boy running a little ahead of Grant fell.
"He got shot and went down, and then I was going to stop and grab him, but all those other students stopped and I told them to run. And then, by that time, Jeff was pretty much right by us again and I just ducked and took off again."
She said the gunman eventually turned down another hall, and Grant and the students made it out of the building.