Math teacher praised for tackling school shooting gunman

11:35 PM, Feb 23, 2010   |    comments
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"I was on parking lot duty handling the crosswalk and I heard a sound like someone had put a firecracker in a trashcan. I turned around and saw this guy with a gun," Benke said. "Unfortunately he got another round off before I could grab him."

Investigators still do not know why 32-year-old Bruco Strong Eagle Eastwood shot two students. Reagan Weber, a seventh grader, was treated and released. Matt Thieu is in critical condition at The Children's Hospital.

Benke, a seventh-grade math teacher at Deer Creek, was 15 feet away from Eastwood when he opened fire and rushed to stop the gunman.

"He had a bolt-action rifle and I knew he couldn't get another round off when I got to him," Benke said. "He was concentrating on reloading."

Benke tackled the gunman to the ground and another teacher fell on top of both of them.

"He was struggling," Benke said. "I was trying to say to the guy, 'I'm 6'5". You're not going anywhere. You might as well quit struggling."

Benke says deputies then came and handcuffed the gunman and took him away.

"I asked him, 'Why did you do this?' and 'Were you a student here?' and he didn't respond or make a whole lot of sense," he said. "I had arms and legs wrapped around him and we're basically trying to get the guy to stop struggling."

Benke says he taught Thieu last year.

"It bugs me that one of my students got shot from last year. I had just talked to him last week in his class with his history teacher," he said.

Many are calling Benke a hero for his actions. The sheriff shook his hand outside of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office on Tuesday night.

"You're a fine man," Sheriff Ted Mink told him.

"I don't think I am," Benke said shaking his head. "Good thing we were out on parking lot duty."

A Facebook page has been set up calling Benke a hero.

(KUSA-TV © 2010 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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