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US school shooting suspect dead; 2 students hurt

CENTENNIAL, Colorado (AP) — A teenager who may have had a grudge against a teacher opened fire with a shotgun at a Colorado high school, wounding two students before killing himself.

Quick-thinking students at Arapahoe High School on Friday alerted the targeted teacher, who quickly left the building. The scene unfolded on the eve of the Newtown massacre anniversary, a somber reminder of the ever-present potential for violence in the nation's schools.

One of the wounded students, a girl, was hospitalized in serious condition. The other student suffered minor gunshot-related injuries and was released from the hospital hours later, authorities said.

A third person was being treated for unspecified injuries but had not been shot, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson initially reported that the most seriously hurt student was wounded after confronting the gunman, but he later said that did not appear to be the case.

Robinson identified the shooter Friday night as Karl Halverson Pierson.

The shooter entered the school armed with a shotgun and looking for a teacher he identified by name, said Robinson. The teacher immediately left the school when he learned the student was looking for him, Robinson said.

"He knew he was the target and he left that school in an effort to try to encourage the shooter to also leave the school," the sheriff said. "That was a very wise tactical decision."

Two suspected Molotov cocktails were also found inside the school, the sheriff said. One detonated, though no one was injured.

Within 20 minutes of the first report of a gunman, officers found the suspect's body inside the school, Robinson said.

Students were seen walking toward the school's running track with their hands in the air, and television footage showed students being patted down. Robinson said deputies wanted to make sure there were no other conspirators. Authorities later concluded that the gunman had acted alone.

Nearby neighborhoods were jammed with cars as parents sought out their children. Some parents stood in long lines at a church. One young girl who was barefoot embraced her parents, and the family began to cry.

Several other Denver-area school districts went into lockdown as reports of the shooting spread. Police as far away as Fort Collins, about a two-hour drive north, stepped up school security.

The practice of sending law enforcement directly into an active shooting was developed in response to another Colorado school shooting that shook the nation: In 1999, two teenage shooters killed 12 classmates and a teacher at Columbine High School before killing themselves.

Arapahoe High School is just 8 miles (13 kilometers) from Columbine.

More recently, a shooter killed 12 people at a movie theater in Aurora, another Denver suburb, in the summer of 2012.

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Students, escorted by armed police, are led out of Arapahoe High School after a shooting on the campus in Centennial, Colo., on Friday, Dec. 13.

(AP)

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