"We have been in contact with the parents of the suspect in this matter and out of respect for them we will not be releasing the identity of the shooter," said Tom Miller, acting police chief for Sparks PD. "They are grieving parents and they are going through a very difficult time. It is extremely important at this time that we focus on the victims of the situation."
Miller did say that the student suspect was 12 years old, as were the two wounded students who are now in stable condition at Renown Regional Medical Center. Miller said the crime scene had been "processed," preliminary interviews with 20 to 30 witnesses had been conducted and that police are trying to determine the origin of the Ruger 9mm handgun that was used in Monday's shooting. Authorities believe it was obtained at the student's residence.
After obtaining statements from several witnesses, Miller said no shooting occurred inside the building and law enforcement took no shots at the scene.
The student arrived at Sparks Middle School just before 7:15 a.m. when he shot a student in the shoulder near the north hallway. He proceeded south and encountered Landsberry on the outdoor basketball court, fatally shooting him in the chest area before continuing south, wounding another student in the abdomen and finally shooting himself in the head, Miller said.
"Everyone wants to know why," Miller said. "The answer is we don't know right now, but we are actively trying to determine why."
Washoe County School District Police Chief Mike Mieras said Landsberry, an eighth-grade math teacher, was "very well respected by his peers and also by the students that attended Sparks Middle School." He said Landsberry calmly walked toward the shooter after one student had been shot, putting his hands up while attempting to stop the student before being shot in the chest.
Landsberry's background as a former Marine and member of the Army National Guard played a factor in his attempt to calm the suspect, according to Mieras. Mieras added that safety measures at Sparks Middle School were executed well by its students and staff.
"I cannot thank enough the courageous actions of the students at Sparks Middle School during this incident, along with the staff," Mieras said. "The procedures that are in place that the staff used did not allow the shooter to enter the school. I cannot thank the staff and students of the school enough for what they have done."
The Washoe County School District had counseling efforts in place Tuesday, allowing students, faculty and parents the chance to speak openly to the district's professional counselors. Superintendent Pedro Martinez said school will resume at Agnes Risley Elementary School Wednesday after it was evacuated and closed Monday and Tuesday. Sparks Middle School will be closed for the rest of the week.
"I can tell you that the healing process is going to be a long one," Martinez said. "This is a tragedy. I cannot express enough appreciation for Mr. Landsberry. He truly is a hero. He will not be forgotten.
"This has not been a Sparks incident. It has not been a school incident. It has been a community incident and all of us have been working together."
Martinez discussed the safety of WCSD schools, ensuring that "nothing is more important" and he was backed by Sparks Mayor Geno Martini, who agreed that the community will need strength to heal.
"Sometimes bad things happen," Martini said addressing school children specifically. "It is up to all of us to be strong and push forward and know that goodness and love will trump the terrible events that much of you will never forget."
"Education is the paramount of this community. We will do whatever is necessary to recover. This community needs to know that we are united and we will overcome this tragedy. Sparks is known as a community of families. This is an unfortunate and isolated incident."
Martini said Gov. Brian Sandoval phoned him Monday from Israel to express his support, and Martini received many calls from Congressional members and the Office of the President.
The Community Foundation of Western Nevada has set up the Sparks Middle School Compassion Fund, according to organization Board Chair Chris Askin, who said there are plenty of needs in the community. He said 100 percent of all gifts received will be used to meet the needs of those affected.
For more information or to contribute to the Community Foundation, call 333-5499 or go to nevadafund.org.