Dozens of witnesses, no motive yet in NV shooting
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
SPARKS, Nev. (AP) — Police were interviewing dozens of students who witnessed the schoolyard killing of a teacher and wounding of two classmates as investigators tried to unravel the mystery of what motivated a 12-year-old to open fire before turning the gun on himself on an asphalt basketball court.
Law officers have confirmed the shooter acted alone, but little else two days after Sparks Middle School veteran math teacher Michael Landsberry was gunned down 15 minutes before school was to begin Monday, Sparks Police Lt. Erick Thomas told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
“We’re still investigating how this all happened. We are investigating the motives, all the facts and circumstances that both led up to it and were involved in it,” he said.
“It’s a very complicated investigation as far as the number of witnesses and the seriousness of the crime,” he added.
Thomas, the lead investigator in the case which also involves Reno police and Washoe County School District police, said he couldn’t comment on some reports from fellow students that bullying may have played a role in the shooting.
“I can’t release any information on any provocation or anything like that,” he said.
Adding to the mystery surrounding the case is the fact that police have refused to release the identity of the shooter.
The Reno Gazette-Journal published an editorial calling for police to immediately identify the 12-year-old so the circumstances that led to the shooting might be better understood. To do otherwise was a violation of state law, the newspaper said.
Media organizations, including The Associated Press, have filed formal public record requests for police to identify the shooter.
Sparks public information officer Adam Mayberry said he expected city officials to release a statement later Wednesday explaining why they have refused to release the name of the shooter despite increased pressure from media and criticism from the public.
Thomas confirmed the investigation extends to the boy’s home, where he apparently obtained the gun — something police acknowledged could lead to prosecution of his parents or other adults who knowingly made it available to the boy. He said he couldn’t provide any information as to whether the gun was locked up.
“We’re continuing to investigate the weapon and where it was obtained and how it was obtained,” Thomas said.
He said they still don’t know whether the shooting spree was random or targeted specific individuals.
Sparks Deputy Police Chief Tom Miller said on Monday it was possible charges could be brought against the boy’s parents or other adults, but said that would be up to county prosecutors.
Under Nevada law, it is illegal to allow anyone under 18 to handle a gun without supervision. The offense rises to a felony if there was substantial risk the child would use the firearm to commit a violent act. However, the law doesn’t apply if the gun was stored securely or if the child obtained the weapon unlawfully.
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