School resource officer credited with saving lives in shooting

Emily Allen, Multimedia Journalist /Target 13 Investigator , emily.allen@krdo.com
POSTED: 01:59 PM MST Dec 16, 2013    UPDATED: 11:35 AM MST Dec 17, 2013 
Arapahoe High School student feet away from shooter
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -

School resources officers have changed their approach to combating school violence and a school resource officer said Monday it helped saved lives during the assault at Arapahoe High School.

Karl Pierson, 18, walked into Araphoe High School Friday with a shotgun, a machete and a large amount of ammunition. Police said he shot and critically injured 17-year-old Claire Davis. Pierson was found dead inside the school minutes after the shooting was reported. Investigators say he took his own life.

Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson credited a school resource officer and a security guard with saving lives during the assault at Arapahoe High School.

The gunman turned the gun on himself as the two responders closed in. The assault was over in 80 seconds.

School resources officers are available at every public high school in El Paso and Pueblo counties.

For El Paso County Deputy Chris Herman, his students come first.

"I know personally it is my worst nightmare if something were to happen to any of the kids at the schools that I'm responsible for," said Herman. "It's gut wrenching to think about."

He's a school resource officer at Air Academy High School in District 20.

"As I'm walking through the hallways I'm always keeping an eye out for suspicious people, suspicious packages, everything else," said Herman.

Herman said school resource officers have changed their approach to combating violence in school since the 1999 Columbine High School shooting.

"Prior to Columbine, the philosophy was still to wait and get a react team together and then move in as a team," said Herman. "We have learned that in an active shooter situation, the killing is happening so quickly and we need to stop it immediately so we don't have time to wait anymore. You don't wait for cover, you're going in by yourself."

It's the same approach the school resource officer took during the shooting Friday. Sheriff Robinson said Pierson was loaded with ammunition that he never fired because of the quick actions of the school resource officer and an unarmed security guard.

"A typical shooter in these incidents will shoot until they are confronted by someone in a position of authority, a police officer or a sheriff's deputy, and this individual knew that our school resource officer was in his immediate area," said Robinson.

"I say job well done on his part," said Herman.

Herman says school resources officers and S-W-A-T teams train to confront shooters like Pierson. Herman hopes he never has to put that training to use.