(CBS News) Michael Landsberry, a Sparks Middle School math teacher and soccer coach, is being called a hero. Authorities said he gave his life to protect his students, when one of their classmates. Two other students remain hospitalized and are expected to survive.
At least one witness has pointed to revenge being a possible motive.
"He pointed to us and he said, 'You ruined my life and now I'm going to ruin yours,'" said Alfrancis de Vera, a student at Sparks Middle School.
After shooting Landsberry and two other classmates, the student turned the semi-automatic handgun on himself and was killed. Federal officials tell CBS News the gun was owned by his parents.
"I just heard this bang and I thought it was a joke," said student Adam Ramierez. "Then I saw people running."
The two 12-year-old victims were rushed to local hospitals.
"One was shot through the shoulder. The other shot in the abdomen. Both sustained non life-threatening injuries," said Sparks Police Department Deputy Chief Tom Miller.
Students and their parents remembered Landsberry, a 45-year-old military veteran, Monday night.
"He was tough, but he had a really soft heart," said 14-year-old Jeremy Hannah. "That's why he became a teacher."
Police say Landsberry died trying to intervene and students took to Twitter to praise their fallen teacher.
One student said "Mr. Landsberry was an amazing teacher with a good heart," and another "Landsberry, forever my favorite coach."
Even Sen. Harry Reid chimed in: "Michael Landsberry: Veteran, wonderful math teacher, admired by students, died a hero."
Landsberry leaves behind a wife and two stepdaughters. He served two tours in Afghanistan with the Nevada National Guard. The school will remain closed for the rest of the week.