The FBI and New Mexico state police were investigating.
Officials held an afternoon press conference but released little information about what transpired at the school Thursday morning, including the names of those killed and how the suspected shooter died.
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez commended police for their courage and described students “hiding in closets, in teacher’s offices and under desks.”
“There were several acts of bravery by staff members, teachers and students that were amazing, that actually saved lives,” said Martinez, who added that the White House had called, offering its condolences.
As authorities continued to piece together what unfolded at the high school, Martinez said the state education department would send $120,000 to the high school to pay for counselors, social workers and extra security in the wake of the violence.
Aztec Municipal School Superintendent Kirk M. Carpenter said students and staff had prepared for a day like this and responded appropriately.
“We obviously do drills and hope that nothing ever happens,” Carpenter said. “Our staff and even our substitutes reacted in a way that saved a lot of lives.”
Police shuttled students away from the school and to a nearby park, where they were to be reunited with their families.
“The school has been evacuated and all students are to be picked up at McGee Park at noon,” the sheriff’s office said. “Our priority right now is to reunite students with their families.”
The San Juan County Sheriff’s Office told KRQE-TV deputies were working to evacuate students to safety and were searching the school buildings.
The shooting took place a week before the fifth anniversary of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history. On Dec. 14, 2012, a man opened fire at Sandy Hook, killing 20 children and six staff members.
In the small community of Aztec, worried parents rushed to city hall to meet their children.
The police department in nearby Bloomfield locked down school buildings as a precaution, according to the department’s Facebook page.