Centennial, Colorado (CNN) — A student who opened fire Friday inside a suburban Denver high school appears to have been seeking revenge against a faculty member because of a “confrontation or disagreement,” the Arapahoe County sheriff said.
The shooter wounded students before turning the gun on himself and taking his own life, Sheriff Grayson Robinson told reporters.
The shooting began after the student walked into Arapahoe High School in Centennial with the intention of confronting a specific faculty member, Robinson said.
“The suspect has been found inside the school and he has deceased as a result of what appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound,” Robinson said in one of his first statements after the shooting. The sheriff declined to immediately identify the dead gunman.
At least one person — a minor — was taken to Littleton Adventist Hospital with a gunshot wound, Lauren Brendel, a hospital spokeswoman, told CNN.
Brendel did not release the age, gender and condition of the minor.
Two other people were taken to Swedish Medical Center where they were reported in good condition, a hospital spokeswoman said.
The hospitals did not release identities of the patients, but Robinson told reporters that two students were shot, including one — a 15-year-old girl — whose condition was downgraded after surgery to critical. He said a third student who suffered an anxiety attack was also taken to an area hospital and later released.
Authorities descended on the school after news of the shooting broke — on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
The shooting also occurred roughly 10 miles from where Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 12 students and one teacher in a rampage at Columbine High School in April 1999 before killing themselves.
The student walked into Arapahoe High School carrying a shotgun and made no attempt to hide it, Robinson said. He then asked other students the whereabouts of a faculty member, he said.
“It just looked weird,” the janitor said. “He went in and I heard two pops. That’s when I knew. I said, ‘They are shooting in the school.'”
The janitor said he called 911, and he then escorted the targeted faculty member out of the school.
“In my opinion, that was the most important tactical decision that could have been made,” Robinson said. The faculty member “left that school in an effort to try to encourage the shooter to also leave the school.”
The gunman’s body was found later in a classroom, Robinson told reporters. The student appears to have acted alone, he said.
In addition to the shotgun, authorities found two Molotov cocktails inside the school, Robinson said.
One of the Molotov cocktails detonated, he said. The other was “rendered safe,” Robinson said.
President Barack Obama was briefed on the shooting, according to a White House official.