A high school civics teacher is being hailed as a hero after tackling a student gunman in a Washington high school Monday morning.
A 16-year-old boy armed with a handgun fired off two shots in the Commons area of North Thurston High School before he was taken down by AP Government teacher Brady Olson.
Olson, a military veteran who has been teaching for 20 years and was a former assistant football coach, held down the gunman along with other school staff until police arrived. As a result, no one was injured and the student was arrested, according to King 5 News.
A student at the school, Devin Santos, said she “did not recognize the kid,” telling Q 13 News, “(he) a white male, he had kind of a Justin Bieber haircut, it was black hair.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. He Said He ‘Reacted in a Way That Any Other Teacher Would React’
Students said on social media that the shooter entered the school with a handgun and fired two shots. The teacher, 43-year-old Brady Olson, then took down the shooter, and other staff members helped hold him down until police arrived.
Olson declined interview requests, but released a statement to the media through the school district:
I would like to say how happy I am that everyone is safe after today’s incident. I would also like to take this opportunity to praise all the police agencies that were involved, especially our Student Resource Officer, (SRO) Ed McClanahan. All agencies responded quickly and acted with the utmost professionalism. Additionally, I would like to say thank you to an amazing staff here at North Thurston High School. From administrators to teachers, all reacted to a very intense situation with incredible tact and professionalism. No one, including myself, can prepare for a situation like this, so I’m very thankful that we’re all okay.
As always, students come first, and today was no different. I reacted in a way that any other teacher would react and at the sound of a gunshot had three other adults, including Tim Brown, Dean of Students, Principal Steve Rood, and Security Officer, Jim Beltico, going toward the sound of gun fire rather than away.
We will all group together as a staff and community, like we always do, and continue to put kids first! North Thurston High School’s staff handled this like every other staff in every city, in every state, across this country would. I’m incredibly proud to be a member of the bigger community of educators who teach and take care of our kids every day.
A student posted a photo of the Commons area, where the cafeteria is located, after the shooting:
The police commander on scene told King 5 News that several shots were fired.
“I think it’s heroic. I think it’s guttural. People rise to the occasion when they need to do something,” Lacey Police Commander Chris Ward told King 5. I think, in this case, it probably prevented worse things from happening.”
Jared Douglas, who says his brother-in-law works at the school, described on Twitter what he heard happened:
2. He ‘Probably Saved a Lot of People’ at the School Where He’s Worked For 9 Years
A district representative, Courtney Schrieve, told Q 13 News, “He is a very brave man who probably saved a lot of people today.”
According to the high school’s website, Olson began working at North Thurston High School nine years ago. He previously worked at Black Hills High School in Tumwater, Washington for eight years.
His wife, Shara Olson, is also a teacher in the school district. She works at Horizons Elementary School.
Helping others is not new for Olson.
He and his wife started a mentoring program that pairs girls from his high school classes with 4th grade girls at Horizons, according to a story on the district’s website. He also organized a can drive with his class to help a local food pantry.
“I want to see how a group of students can come together to make a difference,” he told Thurston Talk, a local news site.
3. ‘He’s One of Those People Who Watch Over Kids’
Olson says on his page on the school’s website, “I have taught a variety of classes from Sociology to Special Education US History but currently teach AP Government and Politics and Senior Civics. I am Nationally Certified and I’ve been an Advanced Placement Test Grader for 3 years.”
A student at the school, 17-year-old Teia Patan, told KIRO, “If anyone in the school were to do something like he did, I would think it would be him. He’s one of those people who watch over kids.”
On his page on the district website, Olson posted a humorous take on Dwight D. Eisenhower’s address to the troops before D-Day, which he gives to students prior to their AP exam:
You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave classmates and brothers-in-arms in other classes, you will bring about the destruction of the AP US History Test and will bring about the elimination of College Board tyranny over the oppressed peoples of AP, and security for ourselves in a free world.
Olson has five-star ratings on RateMyTeacher.com, with comments including:
Best teacher I have had, really cares about you, what your doing, and your future as long as you are willing to put in the effort. No free rides, but really helpful. Amazing!
He’s seriously the best man alive. I never cared about history until I took his class, I love him
Mr Olson was probably one of the best teacher Black Hills has ever had. Now North Thurston has him…
4. Students Have Used Twitter to Thank Olson For Saving Their Lives
One student talked about how Olson had helped her in the past:
A meme was also made using a photo taken of Olson after the shooting:
Other teachers were also praised for keeping students safe and calm during the lockdown:
5. The School Has About 1,400 Students
According to its website, the school is located in Lacey, Washington, in North Thurston County. About 1,400 students attend the school, which serves a portion of Lacey and North Thurston County. About 70 faculty work there.
Lacey is about 60 miles southwest of Seattle, near Olympia.
The school opened in 1955 and was rebuilt in 1985. The school has several well-known alumni, including Kasey Keller, a former goalkeeper for the U.S. Men’s National Team and the Seattle Sounders. Former Washington Redskins player Michael Sellers, pro wrestler Brian Kendrick and soccer player Jason Dunn, who was also a member of the national team, also graduated from North Thurston High School.