Nobody was hurt when gunfire rang out Monday morning inside North Thurston High School in Lacey.
Courtney Schrieve, spokeswoman for the North Thurston School District, said a 16-year-old student fired at least one shot into the air, although some students said two shots were fired. Police believe the student had a revolver.
Lacey Police Cmdr. Jim Mack said the student was being held at the Lacey Police Station while a search warrant was served at his home. The student transferred from another school about a month ago, Mack said. His name was not released.
The student gunman was taken down by Advanced Placement government teacher Brady Olson. “He’s a very large guy; he’s a very popular teacher, and I can see him doing that,” Schrieve said.
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Olson declined to be interviewed Monday, but issued a statement through the school district:
“I would like to say how happy I am that everyone is safe after today’s incident. I would also like to take this opportunity to praise all the police agencies that were involved, especially our Student Resource Officer, (SRO) Ed McClanahan. All agencies responded quickly and acted with the utmost professionalism,” he said in the statement.
“Additionally, I would like to say thank you to an amazing staff here at North Thurston High School. From administrators to teachers, all reacted to a very intense situation with incredible tact and professionalism. No one, including myself, can prepare for a situation like this, so I’m very thankful that we’re all okay.
“As always, students come first, and today was no different. I reacted in a way that any other teacher would react and at the sound of a gunshot had three other adults, including Tim Brown, Dean of Students, Principal Steve Rood, and Security Officer Jim Beltico going toward the sound of gunfire rather than away. We will all group together as a staff and community, like we always do, and continue to put kids first.
“North Thurston High School’s staff handled this like every other staff in every city, in every state, across this country would. I’m incredibly proud to be a member of the bigger community of educators who teach and take care of our kids every day.”
North Thurston senior Manisha Sapkota, 18, told The Olympian that she was in the commons on her way to class when she heard the first shot. She thought it was a table that had fallen. Then Sapkota said she heard a second shot and a lot of screams.
“I started running,” she said. “I said, ‘Am I going to get shot? Am I going to die today?’ It was scary.”
Sapkota said a teacher took her and other students to a neighborhood across the street from the school, to wait until it was safe to return to the campus.
Tyrina Thrower, 15, said she stayed on the phone with her dad as she hid in a classroom with others immediately after the shooting.
“I was crying, and I told him there was a guy with a gun in the building,” Thrower said.
Her dad, Charlesell Thrower, 50, a former police officer said his first instinct was to calm his daughter down. Then he went into protective mode.
“I told her, ‘What I need you to do is stay low, stay quiet and listen to your teachers.’ ”
Student Anthony Rybalkin, 16, said he was in the school’s commons area when the shots were fired. He said he saw the suspect and Olson’s heroic efforts.
“I saw (the student) walking down the stairs with a cigarette and gun in his hand,” Rybalkin said. “I was like, ‘This is actually happening.’ ”
Rybalkin said Olson tackled the suspect, and another teacher helped hold him down until police arrived.
School was dismissed after police cleared the scene.
Parents and students were reunited at South Sound Stadium in Lacey throughout the morning. There were a lot of hugs and tears.
Schrieve said students who weren’t picked up at the school would be bused home. If nobody was home, students were taken to district headquarters at 305 College St., where they could be picked up by parents.
The school also canceled the day’s athletic events and activities. Nearby Chinook Middle School remained open, Schrieve said.
Capital Christian Center will be open from noon to 8 p.m. and counselors will be available, Deborah McLain, the pastor’s wife, said. The address is 4431 Martin Way E. For information, call Cortnei Boyd, 360-528-7403.
“We want to support the community any way we can,” McLain said.