COLD SPRING, Minn. – A freshman opened fire at a high school Wednesday, killing one student and critically wounding a second before a teacher apparently talked the boy into dropping the gun, authorities said.
Police said the 15-year-old boy, who was not identified, was cooperating with authorities, but the motive was not immediately known.
Police Chief Phil Jones said "there was chaos" as police arrived at the school. One of the students was shot while in the weight room and the other shooting occurred in the gym.
Aaron Rollins, a senior, died at a hospital after being shot in the face and neck. Seth Bartell, a freshman, was in critical condition with gunshot wounds to the chest and head.
Officials evacuated the school and sent all students home. Education Department spokesman Doug Gray said it appeared to be Minnesota's first fatal shooting carried out by a student inside a school.
"There was kids crying," Jamie Toddingham, a junior, told KSTP-TV. "We were sitting at a window where we could see cops everywhere. I was just thinking about, it could've been me."
"We all thought it was a drill or something, but when the principal went on the intercom, his voice was shaky," said senior Nicole Vogt.
Jones said that it appeared a well-respected, veteran teacher and coach talked the boy into handing over the small-caliber handgun. When police arrived, the boy was in the custody of the school's staff in an administrative office, he said.
Stearns County Sheriff John Sanner said the shooting has stunned people in Cold Spring (search), a close-knit community of about 3,000 people.
"When something of this magnitude happens, it actually shakes the foundation of everybody that lives here," he said. "This is very tragic, very sad -- and we're all trying to understand why."
The school district's name, Rocori, comes from the first two letters of the communities it serves: Rockville, Cold Spring and Richmond. The high school has about 800 students.