By Jon Herskovitz
(Reuters) – A student armed with two handguns shot a teacher and a fellow student at a middle school in Indiana on Friday, police said, the latest in a series of shootings at U.S. schools and colleges fueling debate about how to keep campuses safe.
The teacher who was shot swatted the guns away from the student and wrestled him to the ground, protecting other students in his science class, witnesses told local media.
The suspect had excused himself from class at Noblesville West Middle School and came back armed with the pistols and opened fire. Police apprehended him in the classroom.
They did not provide further details on the incident or release the names of anyone who was involved.
“We do know the situation resolved extremely quickly,” Noblesville Police Chief Kevin Jowitt told reporters about the shooting at the school, which has about 1,350 students.
The incident occurred a week after a 17-year-old high school student in Santa Fe, Texas, near Houston shot and killed eight classmates and two teachers.
Local media said the Noblesville student who was shot was a 13-year-old girl.
The teacher was identified as Jason Seaman by the Indianapolis Star and other local media. Seaman’s mother said on Facebook her son was shot through the abdomen, in the hip and in the forearm, and was undergoing surgery.
“Please pray for my son Jason,” Kristi Seaman wrote.
The shooting occurred shortly after 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT) at the school about 25 miles (40 km) northeast of Indianapolis, and authorities said the school was placed on lockdown.
Student Austin Duncan said in an interview with local broadcaster WTTV that occupants of his classroom barricaded a door and huddled together in a panic during the shooting incident while a teacher grabbed a baseball bat for protection.
“All of us were crying, texting our loved ones, texting our friends,” Duncan said.
Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb, flying back from Europe, said in a statement that he was monitoring the situation.
“Our thoughts are with all those affected by this horrible situation,” he said, adding that about 100 State Police officers had been made available to work with local responders.
After last week’s Texas high school shooting, elected officials and survivors there have voiced support for gun rights.
The reaction contrasted with the response to a February shooting at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The killing of 17 teens and educators there sparked a youth-led movement calling for new restrictions on gun ownership.
After Friday’s shooting, Carly Novel, a Marjory Stoneman student, tweeted: “Noblesville Middle School students I am so sorry. You are too young. We all are.”
(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas, Ben Klayman in Detroit and Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago; additional reporting by Peter Szekely in New York; editing by Tom Brown and Jonathan Oatis)