OMAHA, Neb. – The son of a police detective opened fire at a Nebraska high school Wednesday, fatally wounding the assistant principal and forcing panicked students to take cover in the kitchen of the building just as they returned from holiday break.
The gunman, who had attended the school for no more than two months, also wounded the principal before fleeing from the scene and fatally shooting himself in his car about a mile away.
Authorities declined to speculate about why the suspect, identified as 17-year-old Robert Butler Jr., targeted the administrators.
Vice Principal Vicki Kaspar, 58, died at a hospital hours after the shooting, police said. Principal Curtis Case, 45, was listed in stable condition.
Butler’s stepgrandfather, Robert Uribe, said the news still seemed unreal to him Wednesday evening and didn’t seem to fit with the polite teen he knew.
“I have no idea what led to this,” said Uribe, who last saw Butler about a month ago. Uribe said nothing appeared to be wrong at that time.
Lincoln school officials declined to provide details about Butler’s student record. But Lincoln Southwest High School Principal Rob Slauson said Butler was involved in few, if any, activities before transferring to the new school.
“I think it’s safe to say that in the yearbook, there was one picture of Robert Butler, and that was his school picture,” Slauson said.
Police Chief Alex Hayes provided no details on the weapon Butler used or how he obtained it. Butler’s father is a detective for the Omaha Police Department. Investigators were interviewing the seven-year veteran to learn more about what may have led to the shooting.
Authorities first received reports of the shooting around 12:50 p.m. The school was immediately locked down, but within two hours, students were being released in groups.
When the first group of students emerged, parents began applauding. Some of the students smiled, raised their hands in the air and flashed a V for victory sign.
The school on the west side of Omaha has about 2,100 students.