A 14-year-old freshman girl died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound Thursday morning after shooting and injuring another female student at a high school in the West Texas town of Alpine, officials say.
Brewster County Sheriff Ronny Dodson told radio station KVLF-AM that the school was placed on lockdown and the students were evacuated after a female student ran outside seeking help after being shot.
Witnesses took the student, whose name has not been released, to a hospital with injuries that were not considered life threatening.
Inside the school, officers found the freshman dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
"The shooter appears to have shot herself," Dodson said, earlier in the morning.
Dodson told KWES-TV in Odessa that a semi-automatic pistol was recovered near the teen's body along with an unspecified amount of ammunition.
A motive for the shooting is unclear.
Dodson said the student had only lived in Alpine about six months and that her grandparents said she was a straight A student with no indications of any problems.
"This community does not expect this," Dodson said. "We don't want this and we can't explain it yet."
While police were clearing the school, Dodson said a U.S. Marshal's weapon accidentally discharged and wounded an officer in the leg. The officer's condition was not released.
Students Hide, Shut Off Lights Under Lock Down
William Butler, a 17-year-old senior at the school, said he was in pre-calculus when he heard his friend screaming for people to run, NBC News reported.
Butler said another teacher ran into the room and told all the students to hide. They turned off the lights and locked the door. The school was put on lockdown, Butler told NBC News. A few minutes later Butler said he heard a gunshot.
"It was scary, I didn't really know what was going to happen," Butler said. "The cops knocked on the door a little bit later and started to escort everyone out. When the police escorted us out of the classroom, there was a trail of blood going from the hallway I was going in toward the band hall."
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement: “I am currently monitoring the active shooter situation in Alpine. I have directed my office to offer any measure of support needed to assist the law enforcement officials currently working this case. I wish to extend prayers and sympathy to any victims’ families and their loved ones who have been affected by this senseless act of violence.”
"I've lived in Alpine just about my whole life. Alpine has had some rough days, but this has been one of the roughest," said former Texas Congressman Pete Gallego.
The school district's website said the town of about 5,900 residents has three schools with a district-wide student population of 985; 300 of those students are enrolled at Alpine High School.
After an emergency board of trustees meeting Thursday afternoon, officials at the Alpine Independent School District issued a statement closing its three schools Friday. The statement said the district will have counselors and clergy available Monday when classes resume. It is also holding a training for staff on responding to trauma and will hold a parent and community forum Sunday night.
Bomb Threats Follow Alpine School Shooting
Sul Ross State University in Alpine also was also briefly placed on lockdown due to a bomb threat. The lockdown was later lifted.
Law enforcement officials said they don't believe there was a direct connection between the threats and the shooting at the high school.
Authorities said a male caller phoned in bomb threats to Sul Ross State University and a hospital in Alpine. There was also a bomb threat at a motel in Marathon, about 20 miles east of Alpine.
"Right now, we have a nut," Dodson said at the news conference, adding, "Basically, he's what we're looking for right now."
Alpine is 220 miles southeast of El Paso.