A sheriff in southwestern Texas said that a female high school student shot and injured another student before killing herself Thursday morning, violence that caused a chaotic morning in a small town about 90 minutes from the border with Mexico.
The situation still remained unsettled by midday, after authorities said that in addition to the injured student, a law enforcement official responding to the school had been inadvertently wounded when another agent accidentally fired his gun. And even while that was happening, a college campus not far away was locked down after an additional threat was made.
Things began Thursday morning when police in Alpine, Texas, responded to a call about a potential shooting at the high school in the city of just under 6,000 people.
“There has been an active shooter incident,” Lt. Elizabeth Carter with the Texas Department of Public Safety said while heading to the school, located about two hours south of Odessa, Texas. But she said authorities could not initially confirm much more.
Brewster County Sheriff Ronny Dodson told a local news station that police were first told about the shooting because the police chief’s wife is the school principal. When police went inside, they found what appeared to be a victim as well as a firearm.
“The victim at that time we thought was a victim actually turned out to be the shooter, appears to be the shooter,” Dodson told KWES, an NBC affiliate in West Texas, in an interview streamed live on Facebook just after 11 a.m. local time.
This person was dead from a single self-inflicted gunshot wound, Dodson said in the interview.
“Looks like she shot another individual, and that individual had gone out into the street,” where she was picked up by people in the area and taken to a local hospital, Dodson said.
Alpine school district officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment, only saying that all athletic events scheduled for Thursday had been canceled. Another city official was not available for comment because he was heading to the school, where his children are students, according to his office.
Responding officers at the school came from a number of local and federal agencies, Dodson told KWES. While police were searching the building, he said they heard “additional shots fired.”
“Well, that was shots from outside, a couple of federal agents had an accidental discharge, and that’s where that came from,” he said.
One officer who was outside was shot by another during this accidental gunfire, Dodson said.
Dodson said he believed the officers involved may have been with the Department of Homeland Security or the U.S. Marshals, but was not sure. Officials with those two agencies did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
In the meantime, Dodson told the news channel that law enforcement agencies then turned from the school shooting to deal with another situation nearby.
While they were responding to the school shooting, Dodson says police received a bomb threat for the campus of Sul Ross State University, located a little more than a mile away from the school.
Police pivoted their efforts to that school “to protect that bunch on the campus there,” Dodson said, adding that he has asked the FBI for help in tracking the bomb threat.
“That’s ridiculous, for someone to call in something like this when we’re having, we’ve got this situation going on,” Dodson said. “This community did not expect this, we don’t want this and we cant explain it yet.”
Sul Ross State University had posted an alert saying that it was under a campuswide lockdown due to what it called an active shooter incident after the high school shooting. Shortly before noon local time, the university sent out an alert saying that its Alpine campus was “being cleared by law enforcement” and urged people to leave the campus if they could.