Head and deputy shot - but still foil 15-year-old killer

18th November 2005 at 00:00
UNITED STATES. Two Tennessee teachers, bleeding from gunshot wounds, overpowered and disarmed a student gunman who had just killed one of their colleagues, before making it to the public address system to raise the alarm and order other teachers to lock their classrooms.

Principal Gary Seale and assistant principal Jim Pierce were credited with averting a Columbine-style rampage at the secondary school in rural Appalachia last Tuesday, in America's latest school shooting.

Fifteen-year-old pupil Ken Bartley Jr opened fire on Mr Seale, Mr Pierce and Mr Pierce's fellow assistant principal, Ken Bruce, in Mr Pierce's office with a gun from his home, said Campbell County Sheriff Ron McClellan.

Mr Bruce was hit in the chest and later died in hospital.

Mr Seale and Mr Pierce were shot in the abdomen and chest respectively, but managed to tackle Bartley and, with the help of a passing official, wrest the gun from him before containing him in a separate room. Mr Seale then alerted other staff at the 1,400-student Campbell County comprehensive high school to activate the emergency response plan and told them to call the police.

Teachers immediately secured their classrooms, locking pupils inside, before police arrived to arrest Bartley.

Mr Seale and Mr Pierce were rushed to intensive care. Mr Pierce is now in a stable condition, and Mr Seale has been released into a regular ward.

"They did the best they could under terrible circumstances," said Mr McClellan. "If they had not done what they did, the possibility of students and other teachers being killed would have been great." The school had conducted regular practice exercises, to test its readiness for shootings and other emergency scenarios, Mr McClellan said.

Authorities declined to release details about the student, who was slightly injured from one of his own bullets, or his motives.

Late last month, two students at a nearby middle school were sentenced to indefinite detention for plotting to kill one of their teachers.

Robbie Norton, 14, and Dustin Taylor, 12, turned up at Tennessee's Maury middle school on August 25 with two guns, but found their intended target was off that day. They were arrested after Norton accidentally shot a third boy, later found guilty of being an accessory to weapons possession, in the leg in the boys' toilet.

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