It started at about a quarter to noon today at Platte Canyon High School, a small rural high school with an ajacent middle school. As I write, it is ongoing and negotiators are talking with the hostage taker. Many of the key developments happened in the first couple of hours.
Two female high school students in a second floor English college prep class are being held hostage by a man with at least one gun who claims to have a bomb and is in possession of a suspicious device. He may be connected to someone who works at the school, but it isn't clear. The identity of the hostage taker, a man said to be 30-50 years old, and of the two students, is known, although not yet public. Four other people were held hostage initially, but then released.
The school has been evacuted with the students bused to Dear Creek Elementary school arriving at about 3 p.m., and neighboring schools (Conifer High School, West Jefferson Middle School, West Jefferson Elementary School and Elk Creek Elementary School) were locked down and then sent home. Highway 285, the main road past the school, is shut down between Bailey and Shawnee. A flight for life helicopter and ambulances are waiting nearby.
Nearby Jefferson County's bomb squad and SWAT team are on hand to help the local Park County Sheriff. For them, it is a chance to redeem themselves from Columbine where many of them also responded.
The authorities want the obvious thing, they want to get those two girls out alive and unharmed without putting anyone else in danger. Once that's accomplished, they'd like to apprehend the perpetrator, dead or alive, but that is secondary. Protecting property comes even further down the priorities list.
Just now, according to 9News:
The hostage situation has ended. One of the hostages has been critically injured and flown out on a flight for life helicoptor.
The SWAT team moved in, the perpetrator shot one of the girls, who had vital signs when she was put on a flight for life helicopter to St. Anthony's in critical condition (possibly shot in the head), and the other girl was released unharmed. The perpetrator killed himself after shooting the girl. Apparently, a bomb did not go off.
The fallout from this incident will take time, and more details, to determine.
It will make lockdown drills, which have been a part of many school kids life since Columbine, much more scary for a long time for a lot of kids.
Now, we look again for answers, for ways to prevent it from happening again, for lessons learned. And, we dearly hope that that girl injured survives and regains health. We don't know why the man did it. We don't know who he was, or what could have been done to stop this incident from happening. When, and if, we every do, it will be time for another post.