When a student opened fire at an Idaho high school, teacher Krista Gneiting directed the children to safety, rushed to help an injured victim, and then calmly disarmed the sixth-grade shooter, hugging and comforting the girl until the police arrived.
Parents credited the math teacher’s show of compassion for saving lives. While two students and the school’s custodian were shot in the May 6 incident, all three survived and the shooting ended within minutes.
In an interview with ABC News that aired Wednesday, Gneiting said he was preparing his Rigby High School students for their final exams when he heard the first shot in the hallway. He looked outside his classroom and saw the janitor sprawled on the floor. He heard two more shots as he closed the door.
“So I told my students, ‘We’re going to go, we’re going to run to high school, you guys are going to run hard, you’re not going to look back and now is the time to get up.’ and voila, ‘”Gneiting said in the interview that was shown on Good Morning America.
Police said a sixth-grade girl brought the gun in her backpack and shot two people inside the school and one outside. All three were injured and left the hospital after a few days.
Gneiting said he was trying to help one of the students who had been shot when he saw the girl holding the gun. She told the injured student to stay put and approached the sixth grader.
“I was a little girl, and my brain couldn’t understand that,” she said. “When I saw that gun, I knew I had to get it out.”
She asked the girl, “Are you the shooter?” and then he walked closer, putting his hand on the girl’s arm and sliding her toward the gun.
“I slowly took the gun out of her hand and she allowed it. She didn’t give it to me, but she didn’t fight, ”Gneiting said. “And then after I got the gun, I hugged her because I thought, this little girl has a mother somewhere who doesn’t realize she’s having a nervous breakdown and hurting people.”
Gneiting hugged the girl and comforted her until the police arrived.
“After a while, the girl started talking to me and I realized that she was very sad,” Gneiting said. “I kept holding her and loving her and trying to let her know that we are going to get through this together. I think my presence there helped her because she calmed down. “
Once the police arrived, Gneiting told the girl that an officer would have to handcuff her and the girl obeyed.
“She didn’t respond, she just left him. He was very gentle and very kind, and he just went ahead and grabbed her and put her in the police car, ”he said.
The girl has been charged with the shooting, but because juvenile court proceedings remain sealed in Idaho, neither her name nor the nature of the charges have been released.
Meanwhile, Gneiting said she hopes people can forgive the girl and help her get the support she needs.
“You are just getting started in life and you just need a little help. Everybody makes mistakes, ”he told ABC News. “I think we need to make sure we get her help and get her back to where she loves herself so she can function in society.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism