1 shot, gunman dead at Arapahoe High School

6:44 AM, Dec 14, 2013   |    comments
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Seventeen-year-old girl shot. Shooter is dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. Investigators are looking at revenge against a teacher as a possible motive.

CENTENNIAL - The 18-year-old gunman who took his own life after shooting a fellow student at Arapahoe High School Friday was identified as Karl Halverson Pierson.

Claire Davis, the 17-year-old female shooting victim is in critical condition at Littleton Adventist Hospital. There was some initial confusion about a possible second shooting victim, but Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said later in the evening that the second victim had only appeared to have blood on him from the shooting victim.

Arapahoe High School will be closed Monday.


A 17-year-old victim, who was in the immediate area of the gunman, was transported to a Littleton hospital in critical condition. That student underwent surgery.

UPDATE: Arapahoe shooting victim still 'critical'

The second victim who was initially thought to have been shot was transported to Swedish Medical Center in Englewood. There it was determined she was not shot. The blood found on her was from the first victim.

A third victim suffered an anxiety attack and was also transported to Swedish. 

The Englewood hospital said both patients were released later in the evening.

Two other students suffered emotional attacks but were treated at the scene, according to investigators.

Pierson was found dead inside the school from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to the police.


Police say Pierson - armed with a shotgun - entered the north side of the school around 12:30 p.m. and asked for a specific teacher by name.

Authorities said Pierson made no effort to conceal the weapon when he entered the school. He was able to get "very deep" within the school.

UPDATE: Arapahoe High School shooter planned to attack 5 areas of school

The teacher, Tracy Murphy, after learning he was being asked for by Pierson and that Pierson was armed, immediately implemented "active-shooter protocols."

Active shooter protocols include evacuating the grounds in a safe manner and placing the school on lockdown.

Sheriff: Incident at school took 80 seconds from start to finish

About 20 minutes after police began searching Arapahoe High School, police found Pierson dead in a classroom from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. The body remained in the school for hours.

Police did not engage in a gunfight with Pierson.

Police believe Pierson acted alone.

Arapahoe County Sheriff investigators are looking into revenge against Murphy as a possible motive.

Murphy is the librarian and coaches the school's debate team.

Friday night, an Arapahoe County deputy escorted Murphy home to pick up a few belongings.


Two devices, being described as Molotov cocktails, were found inside the school. One device was detonated by Pierson. The other device was located and deemed safe.

Officers who arrived on scene had to deal with smoke from the first Molotov cocktail detonation.

UPDATE: Arapahoe High School shooter had 3 explosive devices, loads of ammo

A Molotov cocktail is a bottle-based improvised incendiary weapon.


Witnesses describe Arapahoe HS shooting

Students were seen walking toward the school's running track with their hands in the air. SKY9 showed students being patted down by police.

"The kids have been through a traumatic situation," Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said. "We need to ensure that anyone we evacuate isn't part of our problem. We're doing the evacuation slowly and deliberately."

9NEWS Reporter Meagan Fitzgerald said she saw many students sobbing on the athletic fields as they loaded buses to the church.

Psychologist: Arapahoe students need time to process shooting

Parents showed up in all sorts of conditions - wearing tennis skirts and hospital scrubs - to pick up their kids.


Pierson was described by neighbors as a "nice young man." Online, Pierson looks like a happy student. He was a routine winner in speech and debate contests.

He's often seen posing with first and second place trophies. He also ran cross country. Two years ago, he was working on an Eagle Scout project.

Shooter was actively involved in school


The rapid response by officers is a direct result of lessons learned at Columbine in 1999, Platte Canyon in 2006 and the Youth With a Mission shooting in 2007.

Arvada Police Sergeant AJ DeAndrea was on the ground for all three.


Counseling Services will be offered Saturday at the following locations:

Powell Middle School
8000 S. Corona Way

Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church
7691 S. University Blvd.

Arapahoe High School is a part of Littleton Public Schools. There are 70 different classrooms in the high school which covers a 254,000-square-foot area. There are 2,229 students that attend the high school. The school was built in 1964.

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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