A teacher who was shot and killed at a Nevada middle school Monday is being hailed as a hero.
Although police have not officially identified the victim, family members identified the eighth grade math teacher as Michael Landsberry, who was fatally shot while trying to stop a student who also wounded two classmates when he opened fire at Sparks Middle School in northern Nevada.
Authorities have not identified the shooter, who died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Police did not name Landsberry in press briefings on Monday, but said the teacher acted heroically.
"In my estimation, he is a hero," said Reno Deputy Police Chief Tom Robinson, during a press conference. "We do know he was trying to intervene."
The shooter entered the school at just after 7:15 a.m. local time Monday and shot two 12-year-old boys, one in the abdomen and one in the shoulder, with a semiautomatic handgun that belonged to his parents, police said. Both boys remain at the Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno and are in stable condition. The shooter then targeted the teacher before turning the gun on himself, police said.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said in a statement that his thoughts are with the teachers, staff, students and parents at the middle school who experienced "a traumatic morning" and that he would continue to monitor the situation to provide any assistance.
"No words of condolence could possibly ease the pain, but I hope it is some small comfort that Nevada mourns with them," Reid said.
At least two students said the shooter may have been acting out of revenge for being bullied in school.
Student Amaya Newton told CNN the shooter was a "nice kid" who would try to cheer up other students if they were having a bad day.
"I believe it was because I saw him getting bullied a couple of times, and I think he took out his bullying," Amaya told CNN.
Another student, Alfrancis de Vera, told CBS that the shooter pointed at students, saying, "You ruined my life and now I'm going to ruin yours."
Kyle Nucum, a 13-year-old eighth grade student, told the Reno Gazette-Journal that he saw Landsberry, 45, get shot.
"We heard a pop, like a loud pop, and everybody was screaming and the teacher came to investigate," Nucum told the newspaper. "I thought it was a firecracker at first, but the student was pointing a gun at the teacher after the teacher told him to put it down, and the student fired a shot at the teacher and the teacher fell and everybody ran away."
Nucum said he and other students ran across a field, as they heard four or five more shots before a woman let them into her house.
Landsberry's family members said it's no surprise the former Marine intervened to protect the students.
"To hear he was trying to protect those kids, that he stepped up and tried to stop the situation, doesn't surprise me at all," said his sister-in-law Chanda Landsberry, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal. "He could have ducked and hid, but he didn't. That's not who he is."
The Sparks Police Department is continuing to investigate the case, which is now classified as a homicide, according to a statement from the Washoe County School District.
"This is a tragic day for our District family," Superintendent Pedro Martinez said. "Our hearts and prayers go out to all of our students, staff members, and families who have been affected by this terrible event."
A candlelight vigil is planned for Wednesday night in front of the middle school, which will be closed for the rest of the week.