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School shooting suspect's identity to remain concealed
by Garrett E. Valenzuela
Oct 22, 2013 | 5280 views | 31 31 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by Garrett Valenzuela -- Tokens of condolence and appreciation were left below the marquee at Sparks Middle School after Monday's fatal shooting that killed teacher Michal Landsberry.
Tribune photo by Garrett Valenzuela -- Tokens of condolence and appreciation were left below the marquee at Sparks Middle School after Monday's fatal shooting that killed teacher Michal Landsberry.
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The name of the student suspect who killed Sparks Middle School teacher Michael Landsberry and wounded two other students before turning the gun on himself will remain concealed, law enforcement officials said Tuesday morning during a press conference held at the Sparks Police Department.

"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.
Comments
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victor las cruces
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November 01, 2013
ya thats why the kid wanted to seek revenge thanks to the other kids who bulled him....
angellc
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November 01, 2013
yea i agree with you wutguy he was a victim of being bullied i herd and seen that on the news that alot kids seen jose being pushed around called all kinds of names triped in the hall ways and laughed at sad .........
wutguy
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November 01, 2013
this kid jose reyes was bullied in school alot students tell news media jose was triped in the hall ways and called names and it was ongoing thing i belive jose couldin't take the bullieing anymore and this was his way of of geting back at them i think he was from what i read he was a sad and depressed kid all becuse he was being bullied no kid shuld have to go through this think of it this way would you want your own kids be bullied think of how they would feel poor jose yes he was in the wrong for what he did but he was a victim him self them kids who bullied him shulded be held part responsible for bulling him it led this kid to do this it the truth all becuse this poor kid was bullied he is not a bad person bullieng can hurt a kid emotionaly its true remeber it can happen to your kid stop makeing this kid out a monster R.I.P jose reyes
rblum100
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October 24, 2013
Who was the student who murdered his teacher? Some are saying that one of his parents was in law enforcement, hence the access to the gun. Initially, the police were discussing prosecution of the parents for failing to secure and lock up the firearm, but there seems to have been a 180 with the police now refusing to provide the name of the shooter.

This should be investigated by the newspaper. If there is an attempt to shield the parents because of their status, it should be exposed.
Laquisha
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October 24, 2013
Just another "Weak White Man". That punk was raised by these "parents" they are suspects in this crime by not securing that weapon let alone having a goof for a kid. Let the community know their name and address like they did with George Zimmerman and his parents. Its time to start shaming these parents
Jeff R
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October 24, 2013
The kids name was Trayvon Obama
anonymous too
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October 24, 2013
Obama? That's a stupid comment. Besides, Trayvon was the victim, not the shooter!
anonymous
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October 23, 2013
Many states have Firearms Safe Storage laws that penalize parents for leaving guns accessible to minors, but check the wording as many laws have language that will allow parents to escape prosecution because of language inserted in the law by the NRA. Is this another "self Defense" gun used to kill an innocent person?
Yuletide
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October 23, 2013
One other question. This is a public school but has a strict uniform policy. Is the uniform policy due to gang violence or is uniform policy common in Nevada?
tonysam
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October 27, 2013
There is no evidence as of yet this crime was gang-related.

In the past there have been gang issues at this school.
Yuletide
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October 23, 2013
I'm assuming a couple of the angry posts below are aimed at my comments. While I understand that ultimately how a child acts is guided and determined by how the parents raise the child, I have first hand knowledge of how unchecked bullying in the school system manifests and even when brought to the attention of the powers that be at the schools, it is often no addressed at all or not properly. That may not be the case in this scenario, but I have seen countless educators in other scenarios just turn a blind eye and hope the problem goes away. I've also seen educators tell bullied children to "toughen up". "Harmless bullying" grows and can eventually lead to open violence. Lets get it stopped while it's small.
tonysam
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October 27, 2013
There is NO evidence this kid was bullied. The problem here is the neglect of the parents to do THEIR job. I am sick of people making excuses for parents who in effect aided and abetted their disturbed son.
Yuletide
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October 23, 2013
While I do believe it is good not to glorify the shooter by posting his name and pictures in the news, I am puzzled in this particular case why the identities of the two young victims are not being released. This seems odd to me.

The brave educator, (rest his soul), is the only name being released. Thank you for your service to our country Sir, and to our children.

Look Deeper
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October 23, 2013
Is anybody else astonished at how little we're being told about this shooting?

The anti-gun crowd wets themselves over stories like this, pushing them to the front pages of national news for weeks to further their obsession. Why, then, is this investigation being shrouded in secrecy?

The child is "believed" to have obtained the pistol at his residence... From whom? Did it belong to his parents, or didn't it? If so, is there no statute in NV against criminally negligent storage of firearms?

Ok, so the identity of the child is not being released out of "respect" for the parents, even though (as ErnestR so correctly points out) it could lead to discovery of important background information. Why haven't the parents been identified? In any other case, everything that could be learned about them would have been published within hours. Could it be because doing so would be contrary to somebody's political agenda?

How about "respecting" the friends and loved ones that Mr. Landsberry leaves behind, by telling the full truth about this tragedy?

tonysam
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October 27, 2013
He DID get the gun from his parents. That came out right at the beginning. The parents failed to do their job, period.
ErnestR
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October 23, 2013
By refusing to release the identity of the shooter, police may have effectively closed off many sources of information from people who knew the shooter and who may have information about the shooter's motives and mental condition. Most young shooters who for no apparent reason go out and shoot people and then commit suicide are mentally ill and on psychiatric drugs. Antidepressants have a long and established history of making some people violent and suicidal. Blaming guns for these shootings is like blaming cars for drunk driving deaths. It all goes to the state of mind of the shooter and once you decide to conceal the identity of the shooter, you have compromised the investigation of the case. We'll probably never know why this happened as a result, so nothing will be learned that could ease the public's mind or help prevent shootings like this in the future. The police investigation looks to be a failure.
tonysam
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October 27, 2013
Of course his name, Jose Reyes, is now public. With it being public, the media can do some background info about who this kid was and what if anything prompted him to do what he did, other than have idiots for parents.
George L
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October 23, 2013
Not releasing the name of the shooter. Hmmm, could it be the kid of a cop?
news man
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October 22, 2013
im shure the questions about why this kid did this or what this was all about i would guess this kid could had a pass history of being a troubled kid or just could be he was being bullied around at school no kid just does something like this out of the blue for no reason did this kid have some kinda of mental probloms who knows did he have alot probloms at home and took it out on the school who knows thats where detectives come in to figure this all out where did that gun come from thats another question i also agree be patient takes time find out this out from the get go to the end it will figured all out at some point. my condolences to the family's ...
tonysam
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October 27, 2013
He did what he did because his parents failed to do their job as parents and lock the gun away or not have a gun at home in the first place.
wutguy
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October 22, 2013
i live in another state but i heard about this on the news this is sad i cant believe this happend i hope they find out why he did this there is gota be some kinda reason he would do something like this and why they trying conceal his identity doe not make any since at all to me alot agree with this i bet at some point down the road he will identified god bless to the victims ....
LoveNV
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October 22, 2013
I find it interesting that some of you are so quick to blame the education system. Like teachers with class sizes of 25-35 students, administrators bogged down in data reports and summaries/reports and low-skilled, low-wage playground staff are superheroes. What if parents raised caring, appreciative, responsible children? What if more corporations and companies allowed caring adults to volunteer at schools & help students by mentoring and tutoring? STOP blaming the overwhelmed public education system. Support it!

God Bless Mr. Landsberry, what a tragic, senseless loss.
Chris 3 L
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October 23, 2013
I 100% agree with you, using teachers as scapegoats for every single thing a student says or does is cowardly. Just as" I was bullied" is a convenient excuse most use for their reprehensible behavior.
tonysam
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October 27, 2013
You bet. Everybody but the parents responsible are being blamed. The school district did nothing wrong--they didn't provide the gun. Those negligent parents did, and they need to be prosecuted.
time to change
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October 22, 2013
While it is appropriate that grief counselors are available to the children, perhaps they wouldn't be needed if what is called "bullying"- but is ACTUALLY harassment and intimidation was no longer tolerated by the educational system.

Inaction when this harassment exists gives kids clear and loud approval of this behavior.

Schools have Zero-Tolerance for weapons on their campuses but do not address why kids bring weapons to school in the first place. Until this epidemic is firmly addressed, kids will continue have a free-for-all tormenting their classmates until they snap.

Sleep gently Mr. Landsberry. Thank you for your service to this country and your community.

NVCondor
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October 22, 2013
The ignorance in your statement is overwhelming.

Public Education does not tolerate bullying, harassment, and intimidation by it's students. Public Education will address the behaviors when they are aware of them. However,that is not to say that these behaviors do not exist in schools and that Public Education, with it's limited resources can control the behavior of all students, at all times.

If you want to point fingers at who gives kids the loud and clear approval of this kind of behavior, you probably have to look no farther than the mirror.

That's right, people who think that schools should be all things to all people. People who have abdicated their responsibility as parents. People who provide their children with an obscene sense of entitlement and the means (social media) to carry out their free for all torment.

Instead of belittling Public Education, why don't you appreciate a Public Educator who unselfishly laid down his life for another parent's child.

tonysam
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October 27, 2013
I couldn't agree more, NVCondor. You nailed the real issue.
Yuletide
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October 22, 2013
And kudos to the Sparks Police Department for not glorifying the shooter by letting his name dominate the headlines. The focus is on the victims, as it should be to avoid copycat events.
Yuletide
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October 22, 2013
Anti Bullying crusade is only going to work when educators start acting and not turning a blind eye early on when bullying starts. Playground attendents, teachers, coaches; they see it and they ignore. Students need to be taught to report bullying when they see it happening to another individual. Usually the individual being bullied is too stressed to also report the incident. Curbing this behavior early will save lives down the road.
tonysam
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October 27, 2013
There is NO evidence whatsoever Jose Reyes was bullied. None. Zip. Nada. There is every bit of evidence in the world Jose Reyes got a gun from his parents, who failed to lock it away in the first place. GUN ACCESS, not some rumor of "bullying," is the issue here.
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