By Caitlin Stuckwish
On October 21st 2013, a Sparks Middle School student in Sparks, Nevada, took a semiautomatic handgun from his parents and opened fire at the school, injuring two other classmates and killing a math teacher before killing himself.
Despite efforts of his family, 12-year-old Josh Reyes was identified by the Associated Press as the gunman on October 31st. When the AP met with neighbors, Bill Williams stated that he and his wife never expected that the Reyes family would be in a situation like this, or that their 12-year-old son Josh Reyes would do something this horrifying. The Williams couple stated that Reyes was a well-behaved boy, and that he had a wonderful family.
CNN officials surveyed students for comments, and reports were released just hours after the horrific event occurred. A CNN official described the scene at Sparks Middle School in on word: chaos. Although it is unclear what the CNN official observed when entering the scene of the crime, it was clear that these students were terrified. Students described to CNN how just a few hours ago that day they ran into the school building screaming, and crying after they realized the explosion they heard going off were actually gunshots. According to the students who ran into the building, the gunshots went off right before the morning bell sounded to welcome students back from fall break.
Tom Robinson, Deputy Chief of the Reno Police Department, told CNN that the shooter’s motive was unknown. Robinson stated that it was too early to tell whether the shooter was targeting specific people or just decided to go on a killing spree.
Mike Landsberry, the math teacher who was killed, was described by his brother Reggie as the kind of person who would help whoever was in need of assistance. Reggie told CNN that Mike probably tried to coax the kid to put the handgun down, trying to protect anyone he could from becoming potential victims. Unfortunately, Mike became a victim in this sudden shooting that left the Sparks Middle School in shambles.
Despite the terror that was caused by the middle school shooter, students are hesitant to assign blame. One student, Amaya Newton, described the shooter as being a really nice kid; he would make a person smile, especially when somebody was having a bad day. Newtown also reported to CNN that the shooter would often buy fellow things for fellow students to help cheer them up. Other students, including a witness who saw the math teacher get shot, also told CNN they knew who the shooter was.
The Sparks Middle School shooting caused a lot of people to reflect on past shootings, particularly ones that have occurred in schools. In Austin, Texas, a student committed suicide in front of classmates by a self-inflicted gunshot wound. In August of this year, another student in the Winston-Salem area of North Carolina shot and wounded a fellow classmate in the neck. In Newtown, Connecticut, in December of last year, a gunman killed 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School. A mother of a child who was killed in the Connecticut shootings told CNN around the time of the Nevada school shooting that this was a reminder that we need to find solutions to keep students safe.