This Person Prevented a Mass Shooting — and We Have No Idea Who They Are

This Person Prevented a Mass Shooting — and We Have No Idea Who They Are

As investigations continue into Friday's shooting at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo., local officials are confident that the presence of an armed deputy sheriff — whose name has not been released — at the high school was a critical factor in preventing a multitude of injuries and deaths.

The shooter was heavily armed 18-year-old student Karl Halverson Pierson who reportedly entered the school around 12:30 p.m. Friday to confront his debate coach Tracy Murphy about a heated disagreement they had in September. 

Shortly after entering the school, Pierson — armed with a pump-action shotgun, two bandoleers filled with shotgun shells, a machete, and a backpack carrying three Molotov cocktail-style bottles of flammable liquid — started calling out Murphy's name and firing random warning shots. In the process, he hit one 17-year-old student who remains in critical condition.


Karl Halverson Pierson; Source: CNN

No one else was hit by any rounds, but within moments of hearing the gunshots, the deputy sheriff immediately rushed to the scene. Upon his arrival, Pierson realized he was about to be confronted and took his own life, according to Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson. The whole incident lasted approximately 80 seconds. 

"We believe that that action was absolutely critical to the fact that we didn't have more deaths and injuries," Sheriff Robinson said at a briefing Saturday afternoon. 

Say what you will about gun control, gun ownership, and guns in schools, but this armed official's presence prevented what could have been another devastating school shooting in America. Additionally, though some could complain about Pierson's access to the weapons, his shotgun was purchased legally in Colorado. And while his ownership is certainly something to consider, this probably wasn't on the forefront of the guard's mind on Friday afternoon.

Shortly after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. last December, Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the National Rifle Association, delivered a statement standing behind the rights of gun owners and famously stating, "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." Though the statement almost immediately stirred up a whole boat of controversy, one must wonder — almost regardless of political stance — if he had a point. In his 2012 statement, Pierre continued, "Would you rather have your 911 call bring a good guy with a gun from a mile away ... or a minute away?"

At Arapahoe High School, the good guy with a gun was only seconds away, and because of that many lives were saved. 

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Matt Essert

Matt is the news director at Mic, covering breaking news. He is based in New York and can be reached at matt@mic.com.

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