Dec 15, 2013 12:40 AM by Tony Spehar -

Arapahoe High School students come together in support of critically wounded classmate

Arapahoe High School students came together on Saturday to show solidarity and pray for their critically wounded classmate after Friday's shooting.

In a briefing on Saturday Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said 18-year-old Karl Pierson came to the school armed with a shotgun and plenty of ammunition, he was also carrying a machete and a backpack filled with three molotov cocktails. Investigators believe Pierson came to the school intent on harming teacher Tracy Murphy, whom he'd threatened in September because of a disagreement involving a disciplinary action. The entire incident in which Pierson is said to have set off one of the molotov cocktails and fired multiple shots, including firing point blank into the shooting's single victim, lasted around 80-seconds.

A handful of Arapahoe High School students came to the press briefing to hear the latest update, the memories of the previous day fresh on their mind.

"Go into lock down mode and we're all sitting down and we hear 'where's Murphy?' more gunshots, screaming," described Senior August Clary.

For hours after the short incident students and school staff hid in classrooms until they were evacuated by SWAT team members.

"We all just huddled in the corner and turned the lights off like we've been trained to do and eventually I heard police shouting throughout the building," Senior Thomas Conrad explained.

At Saturday's briefing Sheriff Robinson confirmed what the tight-knit student body of Arapahoe High already knew, that the critically wounded victim is 17-year-old senior Claire Davis. Robinson read a brief statement from Davis's family.

"Our beautiful daughter, Claire Davis, has severe head trauma as a result of a gunshot," Robinson read. "She needs your continued prayers."

Her fellow students described Davis as a wonderful young woman who loves horses, even those who only know her casually have fond memories.

"Claire Davis is a really, really sweet girl...she's just a very resilient, smart girl," August Clary said. "She's a little shyer, she's not as outgoing as'd never think that this would happen to Claire."

In the evening Arapahoe High students gathered at a nearby park to hold a candlelight vigil showing support for Davis, dozens of students sang the school's fight song.

There's still shock and sadness that one of their beloved classmates is fighting for her life from wounds caused by another classmate many didn't think capable of violence. Sheriff Grayson Robinson didn't say much about the suspect.

"His intent was evil," Robinson said. "His evil intent was to harm multiple individuals."

But, for those who knew Karl Pierson and his victim, it's a situation that will take some time to come to terms with.

"Something that irritates me is everybody's saying he's such this terrible, horrible person and he was a kid once, I knew him, like we'd hang out at recess and stuff," August Clary explained. "He'd lend me pencils and things...he's not a murderer in my head."

Crime scene investigators may finish up their work at Arapahoe High School as soon as Sunday, it's unclear when students will return to school.

» There are multiple updates to this story. Please click here to get the latest information.


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