The Washington Post

Colorado school shooter entered through a propped-open door, sheriff says

The teen who fatally shot a fellow student at his suburban Denver high school this month entered through a door that was supposed to be locked but had been propped open, the sheriff said Monday.

Even if the door had been locked, it probably would not have deterred Karl Pierson, Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said. “He was bent on evil and he was bent on causing the maximum harm to the maximum number of people possible,” he said.

Pierson, 18, was carrying a shotgun, more than 125 shotgun shells, a machete and three homemade firebombs, investigators say. He shot and killed himself as sheriff’s Deputy James Englert approached, Robinson said.

The door Pierson used was frequently propped open, Robinson said. He said he did not know who had left it open that day.

The door was one of the few new details released Monday at a news conference on the investigation into the Dec. 13 assault on Arapahoe County High School in the southern suburb of Centennial.

Claire Davis, a 17-year-old senior, was shot in the face and died Dec. 21. Davis’s funeral took place Saturday, and Englert served as a pallbearer at the family’s request, Robinson said.

Englert is assigned as a resource officer at the school, and Robinson credits him with averting more bloodshed by confronting Pierson. “James Englert is a hero, there’s no question,” Robinson said. “James responded heroically and he saved lives.”

An unarmed school security officer, retired sheriff’s deputy Rod Mauler, also ran toward the hallway and room where shots were being fired, Robinson said.

Robinson has said Davis was a random victim and that Pierson’s primary target was a speech team coach who had disciplined Pierson. Robinson declined to offer any details of the discipline. Authorities have not released the coach’s name.

The sheriff said he could not predict when the investigation would be complete.

Investigators say Pierson purchased the shotgun legally a week before the shooting, and they think he acted alone, but they are still looking into whether anyone else knew of Pierson’s plans. Robinson said Pierson had gone bowling alone on the morning of the shooting.

After the 1999 shootings at Columbine High School, about eight miles west of Arapahoe County High, some news reports said the killers had gone bowling that morning, but authorities say that was incorrect.

Twelve students and a teacher were killed at Columbine, and the killers — who were also Columbine students — took their own lives.

— Associated Press



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments

Sign up for email updates from the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

You have signed up for the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

Thank you for signing up
You'll receive e-mail when new stories are published in this series.
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Video curated for you.

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.