A student was shot and killed Tuesday at Ingraham High School, inciting fear among students and drawing hundreds of parents to the school’s North Seattle campus.
The suspect was arrested on a Metro bus about an hour after the gunfire rang out in a hallway during school hours Tuesday morning. Many details remained unclear hours later, but Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Brent Jones said the shooting appeared to be a “targeted attack” and that officials “have no reason to believe this was part of a bigger plan.”
Classes at the school have been canceled for Wednesday and Thursday. The student who was killed has not yet been publicly identified.
“We have two families that have been impacted:
Somebody that is going to jail and somebody that has lost their life,” Police Chief Adrian Diaz said in a news conference at City Hall.
Diaz said the department is reviewing security footage of the shooting, which took place about 100 feet from the nearest entrance, and that there were many witnesses in the school hallway.
“It wasn’t at the doorstep. It wasn’t at the front entrance. It was within the school environment,” Diaz said.
Officers entered the school after reports of shots fired, found the student suffering from a gunshot wound and aided the student until medics arrived, within about 10 minutes of emergency calls, according to police. The student later died despite lifesaving efforts, however.
Police recovered a gun from the suspect but said they couldn’t yet confirm whether it was the weapon used in the shooting. They declined to say whether the suspect was a fellow student, also noting a person on the bus with the suspect “does not appear” to be involved.
As word of the shooting began to spread, hundreds of parents began arriving at the school to pick up their children. They found a campus surrounded by police tape and swarming with officers.
Many parents and guardians were on their phones, updating worried family members. There were snacks and coffee, but tensions were high, and some parents waited two hours to be reunited with their kids.
One parent said her daughter was giving her text updates while she was in her classroom waiting to be picked up. Another woman rushed from work to pick up her cousin, who told her she was scared and hiding.
Students started being released from the building around 12:30 p.m. Tables were set up in alphabetical order out front, and staff yelled out one last name at a time.
Madeleyne De Leon, an Ingraham student, said she was walking with two friends to gym class when she got a call from another friend. “There were shots. Get away from the school as fast as possible,” he said, and hung up.
De Leon, 14, and her friends ran from the school to the a nearby grocery store parking lot, where they waited for their parents to pick them up.
The shooting happened in the passing time before second period, she said.
“I’m really scared, but I’m glad most people are OK. I’m OK and with my family right now,” she said. “It’s a lot to process.”
About 15 minutes after Leanna Sparks learned there had been a shooting at the school her two sons attend, she got a text from her 14-year-old saying he had heard gunshots.
“It’s like my worst nightmare come true,” she said.
While her sons waited inside their classrooms for police to visit each room, her sons were “scared [and] worried about who got hurt,” she said. “They want to get out, they don’t want to go back to school … until we figure out what’s going on.”
Sparks, who has lived in the neighborhood for 12 years, is now considering home schooling her two children. She had already prepared them for what to do if they ever heard shots: Hide, she told them, and don’t be a hero.
Fred Jala, whose child is a sophomore at Ingraham, said he’s feeling lots of emotions: “scared for my student’s safety, sadness for the victim, sadness for the students for being so close to violence, anger at gun culture and its enablers.”
Bernard Richard Hall, whose 15-year-old son is an Ingraham sophomore, was also among parents searching for answers Tuesday morning.
Hall learned of the shooting through an email from the school district. Wanting more information, he drove to the school. As he stood in the parking lot waiting for an update, while the school remained on lockdown and most students remained inside, Hall covered his face with a tissue and wiped tears from his eyes.
“You hear about it in the news all the time,” Hall said. “Maybe it’s cliché but it’s different when it happens to you.”
Matteo Griffin said his wife, Heather, is a consulting teacher for the school district and mentors new teachers. Griffin had been talking with her since moments after the school’s lockdown was announced. She was holding a one-on-one meeting, with no students around, when the shooting happened.
While Griffin’s wife needed to remain on the campus during the lockdown, he was volunteering in the auditorium to help students connect with their parents.
“There will come a time this evening when she needs to process this and then there will be many tears,” Griffin said.
Tuesday evening, about 40 people gathered inside the Haller Lake United Methodist Church sanctuary for a vigil honoring the student who was killed.
Michael Ramos, executive director of the Church Council of Greater Seattle, told mourners the sanctuary could serve as a space for them to heal from the day’s violence and trauma.
“This neighborhood is meant to be a safe place for everyone, especially children and students,” he said, asking them to pray for grieving family members and those whose security was violently disrupted.
Ingraham is one of the city’s 18 public high schools, and its attendance area stretches from the north end of Green Lake to the city’s northern border, and to Puget Sound on the west. With an enrollment of about 1,462 students, it is one of the city’s large, comprehensive high schools. In the last school year it had a graduation rate of 90%, according to state data.
Gov. Jay Inslee, who played on the school’s state championship basketball team in 1968-69, is one of its most famous graduates.
“Thankful for Seattle Police being on the scene and helping to resolve this incident before the shooter had the chance to hurt more people,” he said in a tweet. “Our children should never have to experience this. We can and must do better by them.”
The North Seattle school offers the rigorous International Baccalaureate program, which allows high school students to earn college credit; it’s one of only 13 such programs in Washington state. According to a school climate survey from the spring, about 83% of students responded favorably to questions about relationships and belonging, but only 62% responded favorably to questions about behavior and safety.
At least 271 gun incidents have occurred at K-12 schools across the U.S. this year, according to the K-12 School Shooting Database, which tracks gun violence on school campuses. Such incidents include any time “a gun is brandished, is fired, or a bullet hits school property for any reason, regardless of the number of victims, time, or day of the week.” More than 300 people were wounded or killed in those incidents, according to the database.
A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the number of public high schools in Seattle. The city has 18 public high schools. A previous version of this story also misspelled the name of Ingraham student Madeleyne De Leon.
Seattle Times reporters Paige Cornwell, Daisy Zavala Magaña and Jeanie Lindsay contributed to this story.