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Two Dead And Two Injured In Nevada Middle School Shooting, Police Say
Sparks, Nevada (CBS News) A middle school student opened fire on campus just before the starting bell Monday, wounding two boys and killing a staff member who was trying to protect other children, police said Monday.
One of the students injured in the violence that erupted around 7:15 a.m. is out of surgery and the other is doing well, according to police.
Twenty to thirty students, most of them 12- and 13-years old, were witnesses to the tragedy that also left the lone suspected gunman dead, police said. It's unclear whether the student committed suicide, but authorities say no shots were fired by law enforcement.
Police said between 150 and 200 officers, including some from as far as 60 miles away, responded to the shooting.
"In my estimation, he is a hero ... We do know he was trying to intervene," Reno Deputy Police Chief Tom Robinson said about the fallen staff member.
The motive isn't yet known. Names of the suspect and victims haven't yet been released.
Sparks Mayor Geno Martini said at an afternoon press conference the situation had already resolved itself.
"The city is very safe," Martini said. "This is an isolated incident."
The shooting happened on the school's campus, but outside the school building itself, according to police. A Sparks police dispatcher said the first call for the incident came in at 7:16 a.m. Monday.
The Reno Gazette-Journal reported initially that a 12-year-old boy was shot as classes were starting, and the school had been placed on lockdown.
Washoe County School District spokesman Charles Rahn says the middle school and next door Agnes Risley Elementary School have been evacuated to Sparks High School. Rahn said the middle and elementary schools will be closed Monday.
"As you can imagine, the best description is chaos," Deputy Police Chief Robinson said. "It's too early to say whether he was targeting people or going on an indiscriminate shooting spree."
At the evacuation center, parents walked with their arms around their children, some of whom were in tears.
"We came flying down here to get our kids," said Mike Fiorica, whose nephew attends the school. "... It's really chaotic. You can imagine how parents are feeling. You don't know if your kid's OK."
Gov. Brian Sandoval issued a statement after hearing about the shooting.
"I was deeply saddened to learn of the horrific shooting at Sparks Middle School this morning. My administration is receiving regular updates and the Nevada Highway Patrol is assisting at the scene," he said. Sandoval extended his thoughts and prayers to those affected.
Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid offered his condolences to those who experienced "a traumatic morning."
"No words of condolence could possibly ease the pain, but I hope it is some small comfort that Nevada mourns with them," Reid said in a statement.
The school, located in a working class neighborhood, enrolls about 700 students in 7th and 8th grades.
The violence erupted nearly a year after a gunman horrified the nation by opening fire in Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., leaving 26 dead. The Dec. 14 shooting reignited debate over how best to protect the nation's schools and whether armed teachers should be part of that equation.
In a statement on the website of Sandy Hook Promise, a gun control advocacy group, Nicole Hockley, whose son Dylan was killed in the shooting said, "It's moments like this that demand that we unite as parents to find common sense solutions that keep our children_all children_safe, and prevent these tragedies from happening again and again."
Washoe County School District held a session in the spring in light of the Connecticut tragedy to educate parents on what safety measures the district takes.
Sparks, a city of roughly 90,000 that sprung out of the railway industry, lies just east of Reno.