CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- A sheriff says a suburban Denver student who shot two other students at a high school Friday had been looking for a specific teacher. But that teacher got word of it, and had left the school.
Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said the shooter entered Arapahoe High School in Centennial around 12:33 p.m. armed with a shotgun, looking for a teacher he identified by name.
"The teacher began to understand that he was being looked at and exited the school. One student confronted the armed student and was shot," Robinson said.
The critically injured student was in surgery at a nearby hospital, said Jason Dunkel, spokesman for Littleton Adventist Hospital. Robinson later reported he was listed in serious condition.
A third student was injured at the school. Robinson said the student suffered minor gunshot wounds and was being treated at an area hospita.
Robinson said within 20 minutes of the initial report, officers found the shooting suspect inside the building, dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
"We believe the shooter that is deceased is the only shooter," said Robinson. Robinson said police were searching the suspect's home and school locker, and investigators may have found a possible Molotov cocktail at the school. Investigators were examining the device.
After the suspect was found, officers evacuated the school and students were directed to a nearby church. Police were outside the school, and students were seen walking toward the school's running track with their hands in the air. Television footage showed students being patted down.
The school is about 8 miles east of Columbine High School in Littleton, where two teenage shooters killed 12 classmates and a teacher before killing themselves in 1999.
The shooting also came a day before the first anniversary of the school massacre in Newtown, where a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Tracy Monroe, who had step-siblings who attended Columbine, was standing outside the high school looking at her phone, reading text messages from her 15-year-old daughter inside.
Monroe said she got the first text from her daughter, sophomore Jade Stanton, at 12:41 p.m. The text read, "there's sirens. It's real. I love you"
A few minutes later, Jade texted "shots were fired in our school." Monroe rushed to the school and was relieved when Jade texted that a police officer entered her classroom and that she was safe.
Monroe was family friends with a teacher killed in the Columbine shooting, Dave Carpenter.
"We didn't think it could happen in Colorado then, either," Monroe said.
Arapahoe High School is part of the Littleton Public School District. About 2,230 students attend the 70-classroom high school.