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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Hero Teacher: I'm A Dumb Guy Who Didn't Run Away

Austin Jenkins
Northwest News Network
Brady Olson says instinct kicked in when he tackled an armed student who had fired two shots at North Thurston High School on Monday.

The teacher who tackled an armed student at North Thurston High School in Lacey, Washington said his protective instinct just kicked in.

Brady Olson spoke with reporters Tuesday afternoon.

Olson stepped before the cameras dressed in North Thurston purple. He was joined by his wife and children. His daughter attends the high school.

Olson immediately made it clear he’s not comfortable with the hero label.

“I think maybe I should be portrayed as the dumb guy who didn’t run away,” he said.

Olson was in the school commons before the start of classes Monday when he heard one gunshot. He then came face-to-face with the gunman.

“He came down the stairs smoking a cigarette,” Olson said. “My first thought was you can’t smoke on school grounds.”

Then Olson saw the gun – a .357 Magnum.

“He then fired again and that was when I was able to get him,” he said.

Olson said he brought the kid to the ground and then “flicked” the gun away. In the process Olson lost his wedding band.

While they were still on the floor he spoke to the gunman. Olson said, “I was trying to reassure him that he’s going to get some help.”

Olson’s wife told reporters she’s not surprised by her husband’s actions.

“I’m, of course, so proud of him,” said Shara Olson, who’s also a teacher. “We’ve talked about this before … and he has many times said ‘It depends on the situation, but if I’m close I’m going for it.’”

Shara Olson added that she and her husband have talked about how lucky it is that no one was shot.

“We have a happy ending and other schools didn’t have that and we know this and we’re grateful for it and we’re just thankful,” she said.

The alleged shooter is a recent transfer student. He made his first court appearance Tuesday and is being held on a $500,000 bond.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."