Gunshots rang out in the halls of Aztec High School in Aztec, N.M., early Thursday morning, leaving two students and the shooter dead. But it could have been much worse if not for the heroic actions of a teacher and a custodian.
Substitute teacher Katie Potter was in her classroom when she first heard the shots. Out in the hallways, custodian Thomas Hill was calling out to teachers to lock down their classrooms.
“They [the students] knew they were in serious danger and some of them said, ‘I don’t want to die.’ And I said, ‘You know what? You’re going to be OK,'” Potter told Fox News in an interview.
She quickly ushered her students into the classroom’s office and barricaded the door with a sofa. The shooter, William Atchison, entered the classroom and tried to force his way into the office. When he failed to do so he shot through the walls in an attempt to kill those who were hiding.
No one in Potter’s class was injured. Atchison took his own life moments later as responding police officers stormed the building.
In the wake of his rampage two students, Francisco Fernandez and Casey Marquez, lay dead. According to police, they were victims of a random attack and were not specifically targeted.
Details about the shooter are beginning to emerge and paint the picture of an unstable loner. Atchison, 21, was a former student at Aztec High and worked at a local gas station.
A note found in a trashcan at his home suggests he planned the attack. A thumb drive found on his body contained more notes.
One reads, “If things go according to plan, today would be when I die. I wait until the school buses are detected, then head out on foot disguised as a student. I go somewhere and gear up, then hold a class hostage and go apes***, then blow my brains out.”
He goes on to write, “Work sucks, school sucks, life sucks. I just want out of this s***. F*** this state, it really is bad. Think I’m insane? I’m actually more rational, peaceful and less loony than a majority of the citizenry of this entire region.”
— Kai Porter (@KaiPorterKOB) December 8, 2017
It was revealed by authorities that Atchison was interviewed by the FBI last year following a post he made to a video game forum. In the post, he allegedly asked for advice on a “cheap” rifle to buy to use in a school shooting. No charges were filed at the time and Atchison apparently told federal agents that he had been joking. Atchison bought the Glock 9mm handgun he used in the shooting lawfully last month, say authorities.
As for Potter, she is grieving but says she will be at work on Monday if they need her. “I told the secretary who called me this morning, I said, ‘If you need somebody Monday, I’ll be there.’”
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