AZTEC, N.M. – The students hid in their classrooms, some behind closed doors, when a suspect opened fire on Thursday inside a high school in New Mexico, killing two children before ending up dead.
Authorities and other officials in the small town of Aztec, near the border with Colorado, released few details more than saying that the shooter was a man and that the two victims attended the Azteca Secondary School. No other injuries were reported.
Local and federal authorities were investigating what caused the shooting and said they would not reveal any details about the circumstances at the moment, even if the shooter died by suicide or was killed by the police.
Garrett Parker, a sophomore, told the Albuquerque KOAT television station that he was up in history class when he heard what he initially thought was that the students were hitting the lockers.
As the noise grew louder, school officials issued a warning on the loudspeaker.
“Fortunately, our teacher always closes the door no matter what, so he kept it closed,” Garrett said. “When they called over the intercom to report that it was not a drill, we went to the corner of the room out of sight from the door and started to hide.”
Garrett said it felt like a dream.
Some parents reported hearing their children through text messages that they could hear the shooter approaching.
The school of approximately 900 students was cordoned off when authorities cleared the campus and the teenagers were taken to another place where they could meet with their parents.
Nervous parents initially gathered outside the City Hall to wait for more information while the officers tried to reassure them.
All schools in the city closed for the day. Authorities said there were no other credible threats to students in high school or other schools in the neighboring communities of Bloomfield or Farmington.
Azteca is a rural community of 6,500 people in the heart of the oil and gas country of northwestern New Mexico and near the Navajo Nation. Its main street is lined with old brick buildings dating back more than a century.
Residents expressed disbelief in social networks, while members of the New Mexico Congress delegation, state attorney general Héctor Balderas, and other elected officials offered their condolences and other assistance.
“While the details are still coming, we mourn innocent victims in this senseless act of violence, too many lives have been affected and too many futures have been cut short,” said US Representative Ben Ray Lujan on Twitter.