NOBLESVILLE, Ind. — A male student armed with two handguns opened fire at a suburban Indianapolis middle school Friday morning, wounding another student and a teacher before being taken into custody, authorities said.
Seventh-grader Ethan Stonebraker said his science teacher, Jason Seaman, likely prevented even more injuries by confronting the shooter, who he said pulled out a gun and opened fire while the class was taking a test.
“Our science teacher immediately ran at him, swatted a gun out of his hand and tackled him to the ground,” Stonebraker said. “If it weren’t for him, more of us would have been injured for sure.”
The attack at Noblesville West Middle School happened around 9 a.m., police Chief Kevin Jowitt said at a news conference. He said the suspect asked to be excused from class before returning with the guns, and investigators believe he acted alone.
“We do know the situation resolved extremely quickly,” Jowitt said.
Seaman’s brother, Jeremy Seaman, told The Indianapolis Star that his brother was shot three times and was undergoing surgery. He said he was conscious after the shooting and talked with his wife, telling her he was OK.
Jeremy Seaman, who now lives in Arizona, said his brother was a defensive end for Southern Illinois University’s football team and has never been a person to run away.
Authorities released no information about conditions of the two victims, who was taken to Indianapolis hospitals.
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.
The attack comes a week after an attack at a high school in Santa Fe, Texas, that killed eight students and two teachers, and months after the school attack that killed 17 people in Parkland, Florida. The Florida attack inspired students from that school and others throughout the country to call for more restrictions on access to guns.
After the Indiana attack, students were bused to the Noblesville High School gym, where hundreds of parents and other family members arrived to retrieve them.
Authorities referred to a prompt and heroic response but didn’t confirm accounts of the teacher tackling the student or describe the role of the resource officer who was stationed at the school.
When asked to elaborate on his praise of response, Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter said: “Wait ’til one day we can tell you that story. You’ll be proud of them, too.”
Eighth-grader Chris Navarro said he was inside an auditorium when he heard several gunshots about a minute before the bell rang for the change in classes.
“The speaker came on and said we were on lockdown and people rushed in and we went to the back of the room. I went into this little room in the back with three other people,” he said calmly standing between his parents as they picked him up.
Jennifer Morris, who was among the worried parents who rushed to get their kids, appeared slightly dazed and said she was at work when her 14-year-old son sent a text message about the shooting, stunning her.
“He said, ‘I’m OK, please come get me.’ That was probably 20 minutes after it happened,” Morris said. “It’s like a bad dream. I don’t know how you get the kids through this. This isn’t something you’re trained for as a parent.”
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, which is about 20 miles (32 kilometers) northeast of Indianapolis, 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.
Indiana’s Senate Democrats issued a statement in response to Friday’s school shooting expressing their condolences to the victims and calling for steps to prevent such shootings, including restrictions on guns.