One person was killed and three others wounded when a sophomore opened fire at Freeman High School in Freeman, Washington. The suspect in the shooting is Caleb Sharpe. He was arrested at the school, located about 12 miles south of the Spokane Valley, on September 13.
The deceased man has been named as sophomore Sam Strahan. The other wounded people has been named as Emma Neese, Jordan Goldsmith and Gracie Jensen. All of the surviving victims are in stable condition at Sacred Heart hospital.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Sam Strahan’s Father Died in an Accident in June 2017
According to a Go Fund Me page set up by Eric Strahan, Sam Strahan’s father was killed in an accident in June 2017. As a result, Eric Strahan set up a fundraising page to help pay for Sam Strahan and his sister, Emily, who is a student at the University of Washington, to attend college.
Sam’s aunt posted on that page on the night of September 13, “Still grief stricken from the loss of my younger brother earlier this year, now I learned today that my nephew Sam was killed in this shooting at this high school when he tried to intervene to stop the shooter. Please help me raise money to help support the family during this difficult time.”
Sam Strahan’s parents met in California where they started their family. The Strahans moved to the Spokane Valley area in 2004.
The Spokesman was the first to name the fatal victim as Sam Strahan.
2. A Family Friend Described Strahan as an ‘Incredible Soul’
In an interview with the Spokesman, Jennifer Guenther, a family friend of the Strahan family described the victim as a “true hero” and an “incredible soul.” Guenther added, “Seeing him grow up to be such a positive and happy spirit to others around him was inspiring. Sam was a brother who loved and cared for his older sister and always watched out for his mother.”
While classmate Liam Marshall told the Spokesman, “He was just really funny, and he likes to make lots of jokes. He just lost his father this past summer. I thought he was a lot wiser (after his father died). He didn’t do stuff like he used to do. But, he was still funny.”
A vigil was held for the victims of the attack at River Square Park on the night of the shooting. There, a friend of Strahan’s, Bailey Coumont, told the Spokesman, “He was funny. He was very blunt. He could get on my nerves sometimes, but it was just kind of Sam. He just kind of the class clown.”
3. A Parent Has Described Caleb Sharpe & Sam Strahan as ‘Best Friends’
A woman with a child at Freeman High School told KING5 that the victim and Sharpe were “known as best friends.” That victim is thought to have confronted the suspect after the suspect’s gun jammed. Authorities say Sharpe had a backup gun. Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich told the media:
Today that student came to school, armed. He entered the school and proceeded to take his weapons out. He attempted to fire one weapon and it jammed. He went to his next weapon and a student walked up to him, engaged him and that student was shot.
Amid the rumors of the fate of Sharpe, Brian Schaeffer of the Spokane Fire Department told the media in the aftermath of the shooting that Sharpe had been taken into custody. The Spokane sheriff said that Sharpe was arrested by the school resource officers who is also a sheriff’s deputy.
It’s unclear at this point what, if any charges, Sharpe will face. Sheriff Knezovich said in his remarks to the media, “These are senseless and tragic events that don’t need to happen. I don’t understand them, I don’t think anybody can make any sense out of this. We need to figure out what’s gone wrong with our society that our children decided they need to take weapons out to deal with the issues they’re facing.”
KING5’s Alex Rozier reports that Sharpe’s parents have attempted to talk to their son but have been unsuccessful.
4. Emma Neese Didn’t Even Realize She Had Been Wounded
Freeman High School student Barratt Moland, 15, told the Spokesman that Neese was hit in the abdomen. Moland said, “She didn’t even notice [she had been hit]. She said it only grazed her.”
The three wounded victims were all taken to the Providence Sacred Medical Center. A spokesperson told the AP that all were in stable condition and that their family members were present.
5. The School Had Conducted a Lockdown Drill the Day Before the Shooting
A day before the shooting, Freeman High School had held a lockdown drill.
Spokane Mayor David Condon called the shooting an “horrendous tragedy.”
The town of Rockford is a small community located close to the Idaho border. Washington Governor Jay Inslee said in a statement, “All Washingtonians are thinking of the victims and their families, and are grateful for the service of school staff and first responders working to keep our students safe.”
The Spokane School District has released a guide for parents on how to talk to their children about the attack.