A gunman and a teenage girl he had taken hostage in a high school southwest of Denver both died Wednesday as a SWAT team stormed a classroom in an attempt to save the student and the man opened fire, shooting her and then himself, the police said.
The gunman was pronounced dead at the scene; the student died later at a Denver hospital, the New York Times reports.
The siege at Platte Canyon High School in Bailey, about 46 miles southwest of Denver, began about 11 a.m. local time. The high school and a nearby middle school were evacuated after the gunman, who possibly had a bomb, took at least two people hostage, including the girl who was shot.
The gunman, who threatened the hostages throughout the standoff, used one of them as a human shield. He refused to talk directly to a hostage negotiator. Instead, the gunman used one of the hostages to relay messages by shouting through a closed door, Bloomberg reports.
The last hostage was unharmed and talking with authorities.
After the suspect entered the building, hundreds of students at Platte Canyon High School were evacuated in a scene that recalled the horror at Columbine in 1999, when 13 people were killed by two gunmen.
Students said the bearded suspect wore a dark blue hooded sweat shirt and a camouflage backpack. The sheriff said the man threatened to set off a bomb he claimed to have in the backpack. The man was also toting a handgun.
Tom Grigg said his 16-year-old son, Cassidy, was in a classroom when the man walked in, fired a gun and began telling some students to leave and others — all girls — to stay.
"He stood them up at the blackboard," Grigg said. "He hand-picked the ones he wanted to get out."
The gunman told Cassidy to leave, but he said he wanted to stay with the girls, Grigg said.
"The guy flipped him around and put the gun in his face and said, 'It would be in your best interest to leave,"' Grigg said.
Authorities had what they described as "sporadic" negotiations with the suspect and urged him to contact them for more discussion. Officers eventually crept close to the building, and there were reports of an explosion inside, the AP reports.
Prepared by Alexander Timoshik
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