December 7, 2017 / 6:18 PM / 8 days ago

Two students, gunman dead in New Mexico school shooting

(Reuters) - A gunman fatally shot two students at a high school in New Mexico on Thursday, before he himself died, state and local police said.

The suspect was male, San Juan County Sheriff Ken Christensen told a news conference, but neither his name nor the names of the two students killed was released.

The suspected shooter was a student at Aztec High School, the Farmington Daily Times reported, although state and local law officials declined to confirm that.

Christensen and New Mexico State Police Chief Pete Kassetas also declined to say whether the suspect shot himself to death or was killed by officers from the Aztec Police Department.

Aztec Police Chief Mike Heal said officers entered the school through a window.

The incident occurred shortly after 8 a.m. at the school of about 950 students in Aztec, a town of 6,000 about 200 miles (320 km) northwest of Santa Fe and 20 miles (32 km) from the Navajo Nation reservation.

“This is a small community where everyone knows everyone else,” New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez told the news conference.

New Mexico State Police said no other injuries were reported, the school was evacuated, and families of the victims were notified. Police said there were no other credible threats to students.

Martinez said terrified students hid in closets, classrooms, teachers’ offices and under desks.

Garrett Parker, a sophomore at the school, told Hearst news affiliate KOAT-TV that he initially thought the gunshots were other students banging on locker doors.

“As it got closer and louder and it was obvious it was gunshots, all I could think of was that definitely, this is it today, if whoever it is comes in, then I’m probably done,” Parker said.

“Thankfully our teacher always locked his door. When they called over the intercom that this was not a drill, we went over to the corner to the classroom out of sight of the door and just started hiding.”

Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye said in a statement: “It’s tragic when our children are harmed in violent ways especially on school campuses.”

Reporting by Gina Cherelus in New York and Bernie Woodall in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Additional reporting by Andrew Hay in New Mexico; Editing by Andrew Hay and Peter Cooney

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