Student Killed Confronting Gunman at Washington High School

Another student described the suspected gunman as “nice and funny and weird”, but says he was obsessed with past school shootings.

Student Killed Confronting Gunman at Washington High School

The gunman was reportedly stopped by a school custodian.

A student who opened fire at a Rockford, Washington high school on Wednesday shot and killed another student who confronted him.

The victim has been identified as sophomore Sam Strahan, who had recently lost his father in a tragic work accident this past Father’s Day. A friend and classmate described Strahan as a fun-loving person who had been deeply affected by the death of his father, reports the Spokesman.

Students who witnessed the shooting identified the suspect as Caleb Sharpe. He is in custody but has not been charged, according to CBS.

A parent from the high school says the suspect and the victim were known as “best friends”.

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich says Sharpe entered Freeman High School armed with a pistol and a rifle. Sharpe attempted to fire the first weapon but it jammed. He then shot and killed Strahan with his second weapon after Strahan confronted Sharpe, reports CBS News.

Sharpe then continued down a hallway, shooting and injuring three other students. The injured students were transported to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center where all are listed in stable condition.

Knezovich says there are conflicting stories, but it appears a custodian was able to stop Sharpe. A deputy who works as a school resource officer arrived shortly after and took him into custody.

Freshman Elisa Vigil says she saw one male student shot in the head and a female student shot in the back, according to the Associated Press. Janitors put a cloth over the male student, says Vigil.

The school was placed on lockdown, as was a nearby elementary and middle school. Students were evacuated to a football field where they were counted. Approximately 40 law enforcement personnel and first responders were at the scene and conducted a room-by-room search.

Parents were told to pick up their children at the nearby elementary or middle school. They were required to wait at a bus barn as police conducted interviews.

Cory Therman, another student at the school, says Sharpe walked by her holding a gun and had “no expression”. She says she then heard three gunshots and started running with other students in what she describes as a “stampede”.

Therman says some students thought the shooting was a drill since the school had just practiced a lockdown drill the day before.

Sophomore Michael Harper says Sharpe was obsessed with past school shootings. He says Sharpe brought notes to school at the beginning of the school year, saying he was going “gonna do something stupid where it might get him killed or in jail”. Students reportedly alerted school counselors, although it is unclear what was done in response, according to KIRO.

The teen says the suspect was not bullied and referenced him as “nice and funny and weird.”

“We’re still trying to figure out why he would have done this,” says Harper.

YouTube videos posted by Sharpe show him shooting toy guns. One video shows him pretending to shoot a friend.

The school remains closed as federal, state and local authorities continue to investigate.

About the Author


Amy Rock is the Campus Safety Web Editor. She graduated from UMass Amherst with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and a minor in Education.

She has worked in the publishing industry since 2011, in both events and digital marketing.

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One response to “Student Killed Confronting Gunman at Washington High School”

  1. John Herman says:

    What was shared with school counselors and administrators and what was their response about the notes passed out by Sharpe to his friends?
    Earlier reports from the sheriff stated Sharpe may have been bullied. Is there anything further to this?
    Every school shooting has shown prior warnings from the shooter and this is no exception. Did this district have a plan to monitor and take appropriate action?
    The eyes and ears in a school are the students and staff which need highlighting and encouragement and an effective emergency policy and plan.
    The custodian who secured Sharpe should be honored and used as a teaching moment.
    Each incident like this should be a teachable moment and cause for executive review of our emergency plans to include input from all stakeholders including the Police, Administrators, staff, parents and even students.

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