Shooter, two others dead at Aztec High School

Local schools heighten security

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Students at Aztec High School are moved by bus after an active shooting at the school left three people dead. Enlargephoto

Jerry McBride/Durango Herald

Students at Aztec High School are moved by bus after an active shooting at the school left three people dead.

A shooting at Aztec High School left two students and the suspect dead, authorities said Thursday. Schools in the area remained on lockdown as a precaution.

Law enforcement provided few details Thursday afternoon during a news conference.

New Mexico State Police confirmed the shooter was a male, but authorities declined to identify the suspect or say whether he was a student at Aztec High School. The two victims were students.

They also declined to say how many weapons were used, what kinds of weapons were used or how the incident unfolded.

Authorities said they believe they know the identities of the victims, but no positive identification has been made, and they are not releasing names today.

Besides the three deaths, no one was injured.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez told reporters that teachers, school staff and law enforcement jumped in quickly to prevent more deaths, but she didn’t give details.

The governor called the shooting a heinous and horrific act. She said a vigil is planned for the students at 6 p.m. at Minium Park.

The school of 900 students at 500 E. Chaco St. was cordoned off as authorities cleared the buildings and teens were taken to another location.

A crowd of nervous parents gathered outside Aztec City Hall to wait for more information as officers tried to reassure them about the safety of their children. By noon, students from Aztec schools were being reunited with parents at McGee Convention Center.

“The families of the victims were notified immediately. They are in our thoughts and prayers,” state police said in a statement on social media.

State and federal authorities are investigating what led to the shooting and did not immediately release details about the circumstances.

The San Juan County Sheriff’s Office posted on its Facebook page just before 9 a.m. that Aztec High School was being evacuated.

New Mexico State Police tweeted at 10:39 a.m. that two students had been killed and the suspected shooter was dead.

According to a tweet by KOB4, schools in Bloomfield, south of Aztec, were on a precautionary lockdown about 9:15 a.m.

The Navajo Nation Office of the President and Vice President issued a news release saying Navajo schools in the area were also on lockdown.

“It’s tragic when our children are harmed in violent ways especially on school campuses,” President Russell Begaye said in the release. “We express our condolences to those families who have been harmed. Our prayers go out to all those affected by this tragedy and everyone throughout San Juan County.”

Law enforcement officers in the Four Corners area responded to the shooting at the school, 500 E. Chaco St.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Phoenix tweeted at 9:48 a.m. that it was responding to the shooting.

The FBI and New Mexico State Police also plan investigations in cooperation with the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office and the Aztec Police Department.

The La Plata County Sheriff’s Office said it responded to the school.

“We have a couple people headed that way to see if they need any assistance,” said Lt. Ed Aber.

In Montezuma County, the RE-1 school district released a statement saying schools in the area did not expect an immediate threat, but would have extra security in place throughout the day.

“Every school has been notified, and staff are operating under heightened awareness,” Superintendent Lori Haukeness said. “Protocols in place throughout the district include security at all school entrances and exits, and safety plans that can be enacted very quickly.

Montezuma County Sheriff Steve Nowlin said deputies would focus on local school security instead of going to Aztec.

“We have to take care of our own schools,” he said.

In La Plata County, law enforcement visited schools to create a heightened presence.

“We’re on alert,” said Julie Popp, spokeswoman for Durango School District 9-R. “We’re sweeping the schools and having more of our administrators present in the hallways to ensure safety and security of our staff and students.”

The Durango Herald and Associated Press contributed to this article.

Students are led out of Aztec High School after a shooting Thursday. Enlargephoto

Jon Austria/The Daily Times

Students are led out of Aztec High School after a shooting Thursday.

Parents of students at Aztec High School were anxiously waiting to collect their kids. Enlargephoto

The Durango Herald

Parents of students at Aztec High School were anxiously waiting to collect their kids.

Roads are blocked off around Aztec High School after a shooting at the school Thursday morning left three people dead. Enlargephoto

Jerry McBride/Durango Herald

Roads are blocked off around Aztec High School after a shooting at the school Thursday morning left three people dead.