Arapahoe school shooting

It’s December, time for another school shooting and SDMB Gun Month ™.

Last Friday, a seemingly gifted student walked into a high school in Colorado with a shotgun, a machete, and 3 molotov cocktails, reportedly with the intent to kill a couple of faculty members. He shot one student in the head (I believe she’s still alive at the moment), tossed the cocktails in the library, and then shot himself to death. As far as school shootings go, this was fortunately rather unsuccessful.

Arapahoe High School had an armed resource officer on site who reportedly was “closing in” on the shooter when he ended his own life. The Arapahoe county sheriff creditsthe fast action of this officer (and an unarmed security officer), along with post-Columbine lockdown procedures, as the reason this shooting didn’t end up like so many others.

I’ll note that the above quote was given in the context of a much larger vindication of the effectiveness of current police response and school lockdown procedures. However, that hasn’t stopped gun-rights activists from waving the “we’re right about armed resource officers being able to save lives” flag.

Absent from any articles I’ve read is actual proof that the school resource officer confronted the shooter, or that the shooter knew the armed resource officer was “closing in on him” when he chose to kill himself. The word of the Sheriff is certainly compelling, but at this point I’m not convinced that the scenario would have ended any differently if the resource officer hadn’t been there. I also remain completely unconvinced that a resource officer armed with a sidearm would have significant chance of stopping your average school shooter, who’s typically better armed and not limited by a fear of death. If magazine limitations are useless because taking 3 seconds to reload won’t make a difference in a school shooting, how can the eighty seconds that the school resource officer took to arrive at the library possibly make a difference either? Either seconds matter, or they don’t.

Am I wrong about this? Is this shooting evidence, however anecdotal, that armed personnel in schools is a good idea?

Addressing just this part:

I think your “average schools shooter” (if there is such a thing) is not going to be anywhere near as well trained as your average armed security guard. I’ll take trained adult over a few more bullets wielded by a tripped-out teenager any day.

I’m not sure how I missed this quote in all of the articles I read.

Source. So that answers the question from my OP.

It’s probably too early to tell anything informative about this particular incident. It would be even more difficult to extrapolate to the larger picture.

To the extent that this person was simply attemping to kill a predetermined individual (or individuals), I’m not sure that an armed police officer makes a significant difference. In the more “stereotypical” mass shooting, where the idea is to kill as many people as possible, it’s not implausible to believe that a reduced response time will reduce casualties.

I’m not sure that anything can be extrapolated from this case yet.

A shotgun and machete would seem to be very noticeable; yet the student seemed to be able to walk right in.


The best trained security guards and cops are always at a disadvantage, it seems to me. The shooter is prepared for what he intends to do and he usually knows if he can expect a guard to be present. The shooter knows what is coming. The guard does not.

Why are we calling this a school shooting? The shooter went to the school with the intent to murder a teacher and the girl was just in the way as he was shooting at the teacher.

Well, it’s a shooting at a school…

But “school shooting” has morphed into its own type of crime. Namely, that the shooter indiscriminately kills multiple people. The Arapahoe shooter meant to murder a specific individual (and did fire at him, according to CNN) and only shot the girl because she was near his intended target.

He also tried to burn the building down. Remember that the Columbine shooters’ main intent was to set off bombs in the cafeteria. The shooting part was secondary.

I suspect that you have imbued the phrase “school shooting” with a meaning not shared by most of the rest of us. When I encounter the phrase “school shooting,” my first response has been to think of a gun being fired in, at, or near a school with no further limits on the event.

Maybe it was show-and-tell day.

It’s surprising that so many mass shooters do NOT choose to go down guns blazing; as soon as a substantial armed resistance appears, they usually commit suicide. I can’t speak to the psychology of this but if this is a valid observation than of course having the swiftest possible armed response is a good idea.

Yes, I absolutely believe that trained, armed security personnel are apt to be useful when someone goes into a public building like a school with the intention of killing people. I do not believe that it’s worth the money to train and hire an armed guard for each of our schools as a preventive measure.

I’m a little confused, I guess. The armed security guard was supposedly “closing in” on the shooter with, presumably, the intent to fire upon the shooter to keep him from doing further harm, so the shooter… kills himself, thereby saving the guard the effort?

Does that make sense to anyone?

No but neither does shooting up a school.

It does to me. If I’m the mass shooter, I wouldn’t want to leave even the slightest chance that I’d come out of there alive. No way. If I leave it to Mr. Rent-a-Cop, he might just shoot me in the leg or the shoulder. Or he shoots me in the back, leaving me paralyzed for the rest of my pathetic, hated, imprisoned life. But if I do it, I know how to finish the job. It won’t be painful or embarrassing or scary if I do it. Because I’m a badass.

Also, ain’t no way I’m letting Mr. Rent-a-Cop steal my fifteen minutes of fame by being the hero. I’m the hot shot. Not him.

Nearly all such shooters commit suicide as soon as they encounter any sort of armed resistance.

Which is why if the politicians and the school administrators had any sense at all, they would REQUIRE teachers to be armed.

Recent history has shown with blinding clarity that the most ineffectual thing in the world is a “gun-free” zone. They’re gun-free all right–until they aren’t.

But Flyer, that would leave the children completely defenseless.