RIGBY — A sixth-grade girl is suspected of pulling a pistol from her backpack and shooting two students and a custodian at Rigby Middle School Thursday morning, Jefferson County Sheriff Steve Anderson said at a news conference Thursday afternoon.
All three victims sustained non life-threatening injuries, Anderson announced at the Jefferson County School District.
The custodian has been treated and released from Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls. The students will be held overnight and perhaps will be dismissed Friday, hospital trauma medical director Michael Lemon said.
The shooting suspect is in custody and could face up to three counts of attempted murder, Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Taylor said during a news conference.
Anderson said a female teacher “disarmed and detained” the student until law enforcement took her into custody.
Idaho State Police, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, FBI and other local agencies are investigating the shooting, Anderson said.
Schools will be closed districtwide Friday, but school counselors will remain available, the Jefferson School District announced Thursday afternoon.
“This is the worst nightmare a school district could face,” said district Superintendent Chad Martin.
Anderson said the shootings started around 9:08 a.m., and that the sixth-grader fired multiple rounds inside and outside of the school.
A long row of vehicles had formed outside the school by 10:30 a.m., where parents lined up to pick up their children, who had been relocated to nearby Rigby High School.
Some families embraced in the middle school parking lot. Others held hands as they left the high school within hours of the shootings.
“I couldn’t breathe,” said Christina Negrete, 38, recalling when she received a call from her daughter that someone at the school had been shot.
Sixth-grader Lucy Long retraced the ordeal, telling EdNews that she heard gunshots near her classroom around 9 a.m., followed by loud bangs on the door. Someone locked the door and turned out the lights, while students hid against the wall.
Long, who flashed an audio recording of the ordeal, hoped to capture some of events inside the classroom, so “police, teachers and parents would know what happened if something bad happened.”
Idaho’s Office of School Safety and Security last reviewed Rigby Middle School in February 2017, director Mike Munger said Thursday. The office was formed in 2016, so the Rigby school was among the first it assessed. The office assesses a number of safety concerns, including a school’s vulnerability to a shooting.
State leaders speak out
Officials from around the state offered written statements on the shootings Thursday morning.
“My prayers are with those injured this morning at Rigby Middle School,” wrote Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra. “I am grateful to our first responders and school staff who are working to deal with this terrible incident. I will do everything I can to support the district and the community moving forward.”
The Idaho Education Association offered support and wished those involved a “full and rapid recovery.”
Gov. Brad Little issued a statement on Twitter.
I am praying for the lives and safety of those involved in today's tragic events. Thank you to our law enforcement agencies and school leaders for their efforts in responding to the incident. I am staying updated on the situation. https://t.co/IF4ECgWhaV
— Brad Little (@GovernorLittle) May 6, 2021
Rep. Mike Simpson, who represents East Idaho in Congress, took to Twitter, too.
I am monitoring the heartbreaking events in Rigby today and my heart goes out to all of those involved in this tragedy. To the first responders and our heroic teachers and faculty who are keeping our children safe, thank you. https://t.co/CjZqWic5Ug
— Cong. Mike Simpson (@CongMikeSimpson) May 6, 2021
“I want to thank the school staff, teachers, administrators, and first responders,” State Board of Education President Kurt Liebich said in a statement. “Their quick actions likely prevented others from being injured, perhaps even saved lives too.”
Said Rep. Rod Furniss: “Our prayers go out to those that were shot and we hope for a speedy recovery. Hopefully they can recover quickly and get back to normal.”
Furniss represents District 35, which includes Rigby, alongside Rep. Karey Hanks.
In a prepared statement, Hanks said, “My heart and prayers go out to those who were involved in today’s tragic event. I appreciate our hard-working law enforcement agencies and school personnel for their efforts to ensure that Rigby students were safe and reunited with their parents.”
Nearby Ririe School District continued classes under a shelter-in-place order as “a precautionary measure” when the news broke, according to the district’s website. That order was later lifted, and classes continued as normal, the district tweeted.
This is at least the third shooting in an Idaho school, and possibly the first involving serious injuries. In 1999, a Notus student fired a shotgun twice in a junior-senior high school, but missed students and was apprehended, according to the Deseret News. One student was injured by ricocheting debris.
In 1989, a student at Rigby Junior High pulled a gun, threatened a teacher and students, and took a 14-year-old girl hostage, the Associated Press reported, citing Deseret News.
In that incident, the girl was rescued and the shooter was taken into custody; no one was injured.
A five-hour standoff between an armed student and police also ended peacefully in Pocatello in 1998.
Idaho EdNews reporters Devin Bodkin, Blake Jones and Sami Edge contributed to this developing story; check back for updates.