By Dan Whitcomb
(Reuters) – One child was killed and three people wounded at a shooting on Wednesday at a high school near Spokane, Washington before a suspect was taken into custody, the local fire chief said.
It was not immediately clear if the slain victim was a student at Freeman High School in Rockford, Washington, Spokane Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer told reporters at a news conference.
Schaeffer said he did not know if the suspect was a student at the school or what may have motivated the gun violence. None of the wounded victims were identified.
The fire chief described a chaotic scene at the school, with the sounds of bullets echoing through the halls prompting fears that there was more than one shooter.
Local television stations showed the school surrounded by police and fire vehicles, parents running the scene. Some parents got out of their cars and walked up to a mile rather than wait in traffic, KHQ-TV reported.
The high school has 327 students, according to U.S. News.
Three victims were in stable condition at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center and Children’s Hospital in Spokane, said spokeswoman Nicole Stewart.
A Twitter user named Christina identified herself as a junior at the high school and said she had been evacuated following at least four shots. She tweeted a picture of anxious-looking students sitting on the floor in a classroom.
“This morning’s shooting at Freeman High School is heartbreaking. All Washingtonians are thinking of the victims and their families,” Governor Jay Inslee said on Twitter.
Spokane placed all schools in the district on lockdown at about 10:30 a.m. PDT (1730 GMT), following the shooting, but an hour later said on Twitter that it had been lifted.
The United States has had an average of 52 school shooting incidents a year since a gunman killed 26 young children and educators in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012, according to Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun-control group founded in response to that massacre.
(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Additional reporting by Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago, Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento and Derek Caney and Gina Cherulus in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)