Michael Landsberry survived 2 Afghanistan tours, died protecting his students in Sparks

Authorities say the student who opened fire on a Nevada middle school campus, wounding two students and killing a teacher, got the weapon from his home. (Associated Press)

A middle school student in Sparks, Nev. opened fire on his classmates Monday morning, killing a math teacher, and then turned the semi-automatic handgun on himself. He also injured two 12-year-old boys, both of whom are in stable condition. The teacher, Michael Landsberry, was a veteran, and a witness told the Reno Gazette-Journal that the student shot Landsberry after he ordered him to put down the weapon.

Landsberry’s actions were no surprise to those who knew him:

Relatives said Landsberry, 45, was the kind of teacher who would have tried to stop the attack.

“It doesn’t surprise anybody that that’s what Michael would do,” Chanda Landsberry said of her brother-in-law. “It doesn’t feel real. It’s totally surreal to have it happen.” . . .

Sparks Mayor Geno Martini said late Monday that there still was no indication of the shooter’s motive, but that the boy shot the two students before being confronted by Landsberry. Martini described Landsberry as a “well-liked teacher by students and faculty” who had served in the Nevada Air National Guard and had done two tours of duty in Afghanistan.

“This happens in other places but you never expect it to happen in your city, especially in a safe family town,” said Martini, who has lived in Sparks all of his life.

Los Angeles Times

The shooter began firing on students as they entered Sparks Middle School just prior to the beginning of classes after a week-long fall break. Authorities were alerted at 7:16 a.m., and police arrived in less than three minutes, according to media reports, but the shooter had already taken his own life. Hundreds of officers came to the school. The students, along with students from nearby elementary schools were evacuated to a high school. Sparks Middle School will remain closed for the rest of the week.

Authorities have not identified the shooter or the wounded boys and are still investigating the incident. Police believe the gun belongs to the shooter’s parents, CNN reports.

Sparks Middle School has about 700 students in the 7th and 8th grades, according to the Associated Press.

Max Ehrenfreund writes for Wonkblog and compiles Wonkbook, a daily policy newsletter. You can subscribe here. Before joining The Washington Post, Ehrenfreund wrote for the Washington Monthly and The Sacramento Bee.

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