GUN INCIDENTS in American schools have been a near-weekly occurrence in the 18 months since the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary. On Tuesday, June 10, the Portland area landed a spot on that grim roster.
Just after 8 am, a teenager wielding a rifle opened fire at Reynolds High School in Troutdale, sending students and staff scurrying for cover and killing a 14-year-old classmate, freshman Emilio Hoffman. The assailant, whose identity hadn't been confirmed as of press time, also wounded a physical education teacher at the school, Todd Rispler.
Police found the shooter dead in one of the school's bathrooms, possibly from a self-inflicted gunshot.
In the confused hours after the shooting, rumors swirled about multiple gunmen, but police said the shooter acted alone. Cops did find a gun on another student in the school, but, chillingly, that appeared to be completely unrelated.
Police were slow to release information following the shooting, and it took hours for Reynolds students to be bussed from the high school to a nearby Fred Meyer parking lot, where parents and loved ones were waiting to pick them up and reporters swarmed.
The comments—from witnesses and family members, politicians and school officials—were the same as those in each of the 73 other school shooting incidents since Sandy Hook: No one thought it would happen here. Everyone's heart was broken. Relief and fear and the surreality of it all were still setting in for many people.
"This is a very tragic day, one that I hoped would never be part of my experience," said Reynolds School District Superintendent Linda Florence.
The shooting immediately spurred calls for better gun regulation from local politicians, including US Representative Earl Blumenauer. Bills to expand gun control have died, amid virulent opposition, in the last two sessions of the Oregon Legislature.
According to the Associated Press, it was Oregon's first school shooting since a 1998 incident in Springfield. DIRK VANDERHART