SPARKS, Nev. — Students at a Nevada middle school were filing off buses and reuniting with friends on the playground after a weeklong vacation when the pop of gunfire shattered the morning calm. Children fled the campus for their lives before the first bell rang.
Police said a Sparks Middle School student was the lone shooter who injured two classmates, killed himself and took the life of an eighth-grade math teacher who tried to stop the rampage Monday. The teacher, 45-year-old former serviceman Michael Landsberry, was being hailed for trying to protect students from a shooting that was witnessed by 20 or 30 children.
“We have a lot of heroes today, including our children … and our fallen hero, an amazing teacher,” Washoe County School District Superintendent Pedro Martinez said.
Authorities did not provide a motive for the shooting, and it’s not known where he got the gun. The 12-year-old wounded students were listed in stable condition. One was shot in the shoulder, and the other was hit in the abdomen.
Jose Cazares said he was hanging out with friends when they heard gunshots, which they thought were firecrackers. He said he saw a boy shoot two students. He said the boy then aimed the gun at his chest, but Landsberry stepped between him and the shooter.
“He was telling him to stop and put the gun down. Then the kid, he yelled out ‘No!’ Like, he was yelling at him, and he shot him,” Jose told NBC’s “Today” show this morning. “He was calm, he was holding out his hand like, ‘put the gun in my hand.’ ”
Jose said he and his friends ran and hid after Landsberry was shot. He said one friend began crying, which the shooter heard. The shooter found the boys and threatened to shoot them if they told anyone they saw him, then fired two shots at a window, before apparently running out of bullets, Jose said. He said the boys lied to the shooter, telling him they didn’t see anything, and then the shooter ran off.
Jose’s mother expressed gratitude for Landsberry, who she said had never taught her son.
“He sacrificed his life to take our kids into safety,” Marisela Cazares told “Today.” “I thank him for that. He’s a true hero.”