DENVER — A high school senior shot in the head by a heavily armed classmate who stormed Arapahoe High School in suburban Denver remained in critical condition Sunday, the county sheriff said.
Claire Davis, 17, was the only person wounded Friday by gunman Karl Pierson, 18.
“Her condition has not changed,” Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said. “She is still critical.”
Armed with a pump-action shotgun, a bandolier of ammunition, a machete and three Molotov cocktails, police said, Pierson stormed the school looking for a teacher, whom local media have identified as school librarian and debate team sponsor Tracy Murphy.
Robinson said that although the gunman was hunting for the teacher because Murphy had disciplined him earlier in the school year, his intent was to create carnage at the 2,000-student school in the Denver suburb of Centennial.
The rampage took place just eight miles from Columbine High School, the site of one of the deadliest school massacres in U.S. history. In 1999, two Columbine students gunned down 13 classmates and staff members before killing themselves.
At Arapahoe High School, the suspected gunman committed suicide when an armed deputy stationed at the school cornered him in the library. The event lasted 80 seconds — from the time Pierson entered the school, firing the shotgun randomly and igniting one of the explosives, until he ended his life.
Robinson said Davis was “in the wrong place at the wrong time” when Pierson shot her as she sat with a friend outside the library. Her family has asked for privacy.
“Our beautiful daughter Claire Davis has severe head trauma as a result of a gunshot,” said a statement read on the family’s behalf at a Saturday news conference. “She needs your continued prayers.”
Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) told CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday that he had visited Davis and her family and that she was in a coma. “Her parents are two of the most wonderful people you could ever hope to meet,” he said. “I just can’t imagine what they’re going through. It’s unspeakable.”
Earlier this year, Hickenlooper pushed through tougher firearms laws in the wake of recent mass shootings.
Hundreds gathered Saturday night at a park near the school for a candlelight prayer vigil for Davis, a popular senior and a skilled equestrian.
“She is a real happy person with lots of friends,” said senior Chris Davis, no relation, whose locker is next to Claire’s. “There were always a bunch of people around her.”