Washington teacher's first thought was get the gun away

AP News
Posted: Apr 28, 2015 7:35 PM
Washington teacher's first thought was get the gun away

SEATTLE (AP) — A teacher who got on top of a student who had just fired two gunshots at his school says his first thought was getting the gun away, and his second thought was for the shooter's well-being.

"I had a conversation with him while I was lying on top of him. I told him we were going to get him some help," said the government and civics teacher Brady Olson at a news conference on Tuesday afternoon.

Bail was set at $500,000 for the 16-year-old being held in Thurston County in connection with Monday's shooting at a high school in Lacey, Washington, about 60 miles southwest of Seattle. The juvenile court commissioner found probable cause to hold the North Thurston High School student.

The boy, a recent transfer to the school, reportedly told detectives that he didn't intend to hurt any other students.

Olson said he had never seen the student before he heard a gun fired Monday morning in the high school commons and he looked up to see him walking down stairs into the area where students had gathered before classes began for the day.

Olson and several other school staff-members, including the principal, raced toward the student after seeing the gun.

"I saw kids fleeing. It kind of fired me up to do something, and I did it," he said. "Rather than tackle him, I kind of enveloped him."

Olson said he got there first because his legs were longer, but he maintains any of his colleagues would have done the exact same thing. He joked that maybe he should be portrayed as the dumb guy who didn't run away.

"I'm kind of a protective person. I was thinking about protecting my kids," he said. Although his daughter is a freshman at the school, he clarified that he wasn't thinking about his own family, but his students.

Olson has received emails from around the country commending him as a hero, but he said he just acted on instinct. Real heroes are people like his best friend who serves in the military and protects people every day, over and over again, he said.

A tall, broad-shouldered man wearing a purple school cap and jacket, Olson described himself as a history and war buff and said he easily recognized the kind of gun the student was carrying. He served several years in the military to earn money for college.

Olson said he has discussed active-shooter incidents with his wife and family and said he wouldn't know how he would react until he was there.

But his wife, an elementary school teacher, countered that assertion when she spoke at the news conference. "He said, 'If I'm close, I'm going for it'," said Shara Olson. "I just couldn't be more proud."

Her husband commended his community and his fellow educators, saying his school was filled with awesome teachers whose No. 1 concern is their students.

"I'm glad it turned out really, really well for everyone involved. Hopefully, we can learn some things from it and move forward," Olson said.