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Washington Teacher Tackled Shooter, Preventing Any Injuries

Witnesses on the scene at North Thurston High School in Lacey, Washington said shots were fired on campus Monday morning by a student.

District officials and police credit teacher Brady Olson with tackling the student and preventing any gunshot wounds. Classes are canceled for the day and police are executing a search warrant at the student's house.

Eleventh-grader Enrique Guevara said he heard one shot and that his friend heard three.

"I thought it was just someone messing around," he said, "But then I saw everyone running out, and I was, like, 'What's happening?' And then someone said it was a gunshot."

Student Kiana Larsen heard a shot too and thought a table had fallen. Then the shooter appeared.

"He came down the stairs waving his gun around and then shot another," Larsen said. "And we just started running.”

Several witnesses say the shooter fired his handgun into the air -- not at students. But Larsen said in the moment it was pure panic. She fell as students pushed their way out of the school commons area.

“I thought I was going to die because I couldn’t get up and all my friends were leaving," Larsen said. "And I finally got up and I didn’t even look back. I just started running.”

Larsen said she and other students hid in a welding classroom until they all clear came.

Heidi Burton is the mother of another North Thurston High student whom she was looking for Monday morning.

"It's frustrating because I could see my kid," she said. "I have driven around a whole city block but I can't get my kid."

Parents waited in a line to meet their children at a nearby stadium.

Witnesses say the shooter is a 16-year-old transfer student and that he was stopped by school staff.

"He was tackled by a teacher, closely followed by a janitor and then our school resource officer was there within seconds," said Cmdr. Joe Upton of the Lacey Police Department. The teacher was Brady Olson.

"They were very brave," said Upton. "They took care of the situation and prevented people from getting hurt."

"I reacted in a way that any other teacher would react," Olson said in a written statement. "As always, students come first, and today was no different." He credited the principal, the dean of students and a security officer with running toward the sound of gunfire.

The North Thurston High website says Olson is in his ninth year at the school, that he is nationally board certified and that he has graded advanced placement tests for three years. Olson teaches advanced placement government and politics and a civics class for 12th graders.

Burton called the incident surprising, heartbreaking and scary. Guevara said it was "pretty stupid" for someone to bring a gun to school.

"This is actually a pretty good school," Guevara said. "I just hope school won't be closed tomorrow."

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."
Now semi-retired, Tom Banse covered national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reported from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events unfolded. Tom's stories can be found online and were heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.