Police: Ind. school gunman asked to be excused from class, returned with 2 handguns

Indiana school shooting update

NOBLESVILLE, Ind. – A male student opened fire at a suburban Indianapolis middle school Friday morning, wounding another student and a teacher before being taken into custody, authorities said. One student said he saw his science teacher tackle the gunman, who police say had two handguns, but it's still not clear exactly how the shooter was apprehended.

The attack at Noblesville West Middle School happened around 9 a.m., police Chief Kevin Jowitt said at a news conference. He said investigators believe the suspect acted alone, though he didn't release the boy's name or the names of the victims, who were taken to hospitals in Indianapolis.

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Law enforcement officers walk outside Noblesville West Middle School in Noblesville, Ind., after a shooting on Friday, May 25, 2018. A male student opened fire at the suburban Indianapolis school wounding another student and a teacher before being taken into custody, authorities said. https://www.apnews.com/#imageCarousel Robert Scheer/The Indianapolis Star via AP

There was a massive law enforcement response to the school, about 20 miles northeast of Indianapolis.

CBS affiliate WTTV reports the injured student is a 13-year-old girl. Another student suffered a broken ankle, the station reports.

Jowitt said the student believed to be involved asked to be excused from class and then returned with two handguns and opened fire. He said it's still not clear what happened next, but said the situation was resolved "very quickly," Jowitt said. Police said the student was apprehended in the classroom.

There was a school resource officer in the building who responded, police say.  

Seventh-grader Ethan Stonebraker says the class was taking a test when the student walked in late, pulled out a gun and started firing.

He says the teacher "immediately ran at him, swatted a gun out of his hand and tackled him to the ground." Stonebraker adds, "if it weren't for him, more of us would have been injured for sure."

A student who asked not to be identified told WTTV the gunman fired about three to five shots, one of which hit a girl sitting about 10 feet from him. That's when he said the science teacher tackled the gunman.

"He tackled him to the ground, we were all hiding in the back of a classroom behind some desks, then he was yelling to call 911 to get out of the building as fast as we could, so we ran down the stairs," the student said.  

The student hailed the science teacher, who is also a football coach, as a hero.

Police say the scene has been cleared and investigators were continuing to process the crime scene, which was limited to one classroom. Police will be reviewing surveillance video to determine what happened.

The families of the victims have been notified and we en route to be with their loved ones, police said.

Indiana University Health spokeswoman Danielle Sirilla said the teacher was taken to IU Health Methodist Hospital and the wounded student was taken to Riley Hospital for Children. She didn't know the seriousness of their injuries.  

Several search warrants have been obtained as investigators work to determine how the student obtained the handguns, a police spokesman said.

Noblesville police Lt. Bruce Barnes declined to say whether the male student was targeting anyone. Barnes said the suspected shooter wasn't injured and wouldn't comment on whether the student had been in trouble before.

Noblesville police also responded to a report of a threat at the nearby high school, but Noblesville police say they don't believe it to be anything other than a "communicated threat." The school was later given the all clear. Indiana State Police Cpt. David Bursten told the station they have the means to track down the call, and that person will be arrested and prosecuted.  

After the attack, students were bused to the Noblesville High School gym, where their families could retrieve them.

Erica Higgins, who was among the worried parents who rushed to get their kids, told WTHR-TV that she learned of the shooting from a relative who called her at home.

"I just want to get my arms around my boy," she said.

Higgins said her son was shaken up but knew little about what happened.

"I got a 'Mom, I'm scared' text message and other than that, it was 'come get me at the high school,'" Higgins said.

Gov. Eric Holcomb, who was returning from a trip to Europe on Friday, issued a statement saying he and other state leaders were getting updates about the situation and that 100 state police officers had been made available to work with local law enforcement.

"Our thoughts are with all those affected by this horrible situation," Holcomb said.

Noblesville is home to about 50,000 people. The middle school has about 1,300 students from grades 6-8. The school's academic year was scheduled to end next Friday.

The shooting comes a week after the deadly rampage at Santa Fe High School in Texas that left 10 dead and more than a dozen others injured. 

In a statement obtained by WTTV, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill said the "epidemic of violence sweeping across American schools has now come to Indiana."

"While we await additional information on the school incident in Noblesville this morning, we must brace ourselves for the reality that our schools and our children are under siege by an unspeakable wave of terror that is taking full advantage of our open and free society."

This is a developing story.