A student was shot and killed at Ingraham High School in North Seattle Tuesday, which brought hours of lockdown, a tearful reunification and a candlelight vigil.
The shooting appeared to be a “targeted attack” and officials “have no reason to believe this was part of a bigger plan,” according to Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Brent Jones.
Police responded to reports of shots fired at the high school around 10 a.m. Officers said they had arrested one suspect by 11 a.m. At a news conference later that afternoon, city officials announced the victim had died.
The student who was killed has not yet been publicly identified. Police have not released any information about the suspect.
The families involved
Standing outside Ingraham High School while the building remained in lockdown, police Chief Adrian Diaz told reporters Seattle had “joined a long list of cities this year that have had school shootings.”
Hours later, at a news conference at City Hall, he said, “We have two families that have been impacted: Somebody that is going to jail and somebody that has lost their life.”
Diaz said the department is reviewing security footage of the shooting.
Police recovered a gun from the suspect but said they couldn’t yet confirm whether it was the weapon used in the shooting.
They declined to say whether the suspect was a fellow student.
At 9:55 a.m. Tuesday, police received reports of a shooting at the school, they said.
At 10:03 a.m., Seattle Police Department said on Twitter officers were responding to the school, in the 1800 block of North 135th Street near Haller Lake.
The shooting took place inside the building, about 100 feet from the nearest entrance, Diaz said. Many witnesses were in the school hallway.
“It wasn’t at the doorstep. It wasn’t at the front entrance,” he said. “It was within the school environment.”
Officers entered and found a student with a gunshot wound. Police provided aid to the student until medics arrived. That took place within 10 minutes of emergency calls, according to police.
The shooting happened in the passing time before second period, according to Madeleyne De Leon, an Ingraham student.
De Leon, 14, was walking with two friends to gym class when she got a call from another friend. “There were shots. Get away from the school as fast as possible,” he said, and hung up. De Leon and her friends ran from the school to a nearby grocery store parking lot, where they waited for their parents to pick them up.
Karis Williams, another Ingraham student, said she hadn’t practiced what to do but that her whole class seemed to know what to do when her teacher yelled for them to get in a corner.
“It just hit me as soon as I was in the corner and everyone was freaking out,” Williams, who is in 11th grade, said. “People just started texting, and people were shaking. I was shaking.”
Other students said they saw their classmates crying, writing letters to loved ones and making phone calls to say “I love you.”
The suspect was arrested on a Metro bus about an hour after gunfire rang out. Police said later Tuesday a person on the bus with the suspect did not appear to be involved.
The building remained in lockdown for several hours. Students began meeting loved ones around 12:30 p.m. at a reunification site, a parking lot and grassy area at the intersection of Meridian Avenue North and North 135th Street.
Tables were set up in alphabetical order out front, and staff yelled out one last name at a time.
As word of the shooting spread, hundreds of parents began arriving at the school to pick up their children. They found a campus surrounded by police tape and swarming with officers.
Many parents and guardians were on their phones, updating worried family members. There were snacks and coffee, but tensions were high, and some parents waited two hours to be reunited with their kids.
Fred Jala, whose child is a sophomore at Ingraham, said he was feeling lots of emotions: “scared for my student’s safety, sadness for the victim, sadness for the students for being so close to violence, anger at gun culture and its enablers.”
Bernard Richard Hall, whose 15-year-old son is an Ingraham sophomore, was also among parents searching for answers Tuesday.
Hall learned of the shooting through an email from the school district. Wanting more information, he drove to the school. As he stood in the parking lot waiting for an update, while the school remained on lockdown and most students remained inside, Hall covered his face with a tissue and wiped tears from his eyes.
“You hear about it in the news all the time,” Hall said. “Maybe it’s cliché but it’s different when it happens to you.”
Tuesday evening, about 40 people gathered inside the Haller Lake United Methodist Church sanctuary for a vigil honoring the student who was killed.
Michael Ramos, executive director of the Church Council of Greater Seattle, told mourners the sanctuary could serve as a space for them to heal from the day’s violence and trauma.
“This neighborhood is meant to be a safe place for everyone, especially children and students,” he said, asking them to pray for grieving family members and those whose security was violently disrupted.
Ingraham is one of Seattle’s 18 public high schools. Its attendance area stretches from the north end of Green Lake to the city’s northern border, and to Puget Sound on the west. With about 1,462 students, it is one of the city’s large, comprehensive high schools. In the last school year it had a graduation rate of 90%, according to state data.
Gov. Jay Inslee, who played on the school’s state championship basketball team in 1968-69, is one of its most famous graduates.
“Thankful for Seattle Police being on the scene and helping to resolve this incident before the shooter had the chance to hurt more people,” he said in a tweet. “Our children should never have to experience this. We can and must do better by them.”
The North Seattle school offers the rigorous International Baccalaureate program, which allows high school students to earn college credit; it’s one of only 13 such programs in Washington state.
According to a school climate survey from the spring, about 83% of students responded favorably to questions about relationships and belonging, but only 62% responded favorably to questions about behavior and safety.
At least 271 gun incidents have occurred at K-12 schools across the U.S. this year, according to the K-12 School Shooting Database, which tracks gun violence on school campuses.
Such incidents include any time “a gun is brandished, is fired, or a bullet hits school property for any reason, regardless of the number of victims, time, or day of the week.”
More than 300 people were wounded or killed in those incidents, according to the database.
Classes at Ingraham High School have been canceled for Wednesday and Thursday.
Students can access grief and loss support from Seattle Public Schools’ staff at the Bitter Lake Community Center from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
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