An honours student at an all-male Catholic high school tried to commit suicide in his first-period classroom yesterday, police said, critically wounding himself with a gunshot and sending other students scrambling for cover.
La Salle High School, west of Cincinnati, was locked down until after police arrived and determined there was no threat to other students or staff. A University of Cincinnati Medical Center spokeswoman reported the student's condition as critical yesterday afternoon, about six hours after the shooting.
Green Township Police Chief Bart West described the weapon as a semi-automatic handgun. He said police were investigating how the student obtained the gun and how he brought it into the school.
West said there were 22 other students in the classroom, and the episode was over "in a matter of seconds" with no other students injured or apparently threatened. Several students called police dispatchers.
"There's a guy with a gun," said a student who called on his cellphone from inside a nearby locked room. "We just need police here ...."
"We're huddled in a corner," another student said in a call.
West said the student apparently was trying to kill himself, but he had no information on why. School officials described him as an honors student and didn't know of any threats to school or any other students.
Students, some in tears, gathered in the school gym after the shooting. The school's website said all students were safe, and were being released to parents "due to an attempted suicide involving one student." Grief counselors from the Roman Catholic archdiocese joined the school's counselors in meeting with students and staff, and yesterday evening school activities were cancelled.
In the aftermath of last year's fatal shootings of three students in Chardon High School in northeast Ohio and December's Sandy Hook Elementary shooting rampage in Connecticut, most schools have taken steps to increase security. In Ohio, that's included taking shooting prevention and response training courses offered by the state attorney general and updating safety procedures with police.