CENTENNIAL, Colo. — A teenager who wounded a fellow student before killing himself at a suburban Denver high school entered the building with a shotgun, a machete, three Molotov cocktails and ammunition strapped to his body, likely intending to track down a librarian who had disciplined him, authorities said Saturday.
After firing a round down a hallway, Karl Pierson, 18, shot a fellow student who just happened to be sitting nearby with a friend as he headed toward the library. Claire Davis, 17, was shot in the head at point-blank range and remained hospitalized Saturday in critical condition.
Pierson killed himself just one minute and 20 seconds after entering the building because he knew a sheriff's deputy assigned to the school was closing in, Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said at a news conference.
Pierson's original target was believed to be a librarian who coached the school's speech and debate team. The librarian, whose name was not released, had disciplined the teenager in September for reasons that haven't been disclosed.
The librarian was able to escape the school unharmed, Robinson said.
The sheriff also said Davis appeared to be a random target. Based on Pierson's arsenal, Robinson believes the teenager intended to hurt many others.
"His evil intent was to harm multiple individuals," he said.
Pierson legally purchased his shotgun at a local store a week before the shooting and bought the ammunition the day of the shooting. Anyone 18 and older is allowed to buy a shotgun in Colorado; only those over 21 can legally buy a handgun.
Robinson said Pierson fired another round down the hallway after wounding Davis. Pierson then entered the library, fired a shot and detonated a Molotov cocktail. He fired a fifth round, ran to a corner and shot himself, Robinson said.
Students and a teacher described Pierson as a smart and sometimes goofy student who often talked about his beliefs during class, sometimes even debating his teachers. They also said he was an Eagle Scout who finished at the top of speech competitions.
"I think he really cultivated his speech and argument skills and really thought that was a big part of his identity," said Steve Miles, an English teacher who taught Pierson as a freshman.