A teenage boy is dead after he stood up to protect his peers from a gunman who opened fire at a high school near Spokane, Washington, on Wednesday.
Three others were wounded in the attack — all three high schoolers — but are expected to survive. The gunman, armed with a handgun and an AR-15, is also believed to be a student at Freeman High School. He was arrested and is currently in custody at the Spokane County juvenile jail, according to a statement from the sheriff’s office.
The shooter had brought multiple guns to school concealed in a duffle bag, just one day after Freeman held a schoolwide drill on what to do in the event of a school shooting. Deputy Mark Gregory told VICE News that their agency by law cannot confirm the name of the shooter because he is a juvenile.
“He shot one young man, and then I crouched down to the floor and then he shot the girl next to me and she fell down,” one freshman told MyNorthWest. “And as everyone was running, I could just hear her screaming ‘Help me.’”
“And as everyone was running, I could just hear her screaming ‘help me.’”
Local news reports have identified the young man whose bravery cost him his life as Sam Strahan, a sophomore. According to a news conference, the shooting began at around 10 a.m. in the second-floor hallway. The suspect’s first gun jammed. When he went to pull out another one, Strahan reportedly tried to confront him. The suspect shot him and three others before a janitor tackled him to the ground.
Strahan’s father died in an accident in June, according to a GoFundMe set up by his uncle, Eric Strahan, to raise money for Sam and his sister Emily to attend college.
Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich told local press that the gunman was motivated by a “bullying-type of situation” but did not offer further details. Local news reports said that the shooter routinely posted videos of himself firing guns on his YouTube channel. The Spokesman-Review interviewed a high schooler who said he was close friends with the suspect, and said that he’d recently become “obsessed” by documentaries about school shootings.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been more than 250 mass shootings in the U.S. since January. They define a “mass shooting incident” as one where four or more people are shot and/or killed in a single event, not including the shooter.