RIGBY — Rigby Middle School was evacuated Thursday morning after a shooting was reported at the school.
A news release sent out by Jefferson School District 251 board clerk Monica Pauley said that two students and an adult custodian working at the school were injured in the shooting. None of the injuries were life threatening.
Chief Deputy John Wolfe of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office said the shooter, a student, had been taken into custody. Law enforcement received reports of shots fired at about 9:12 a.m.
At a 4 p.m. press conference, Jefferson County Sheriff Steve Anderson described the shooter as a sixth-grade girl who attended the school but lives in Idaho Falls. He said the shooter drew a gun from a backpack and shot three people before being stopped by a teacher.
“It’s a very difficult and trying time for our community,” he said.
The teacher who stopped the shooting was identified in the Life in Rigby Facebook group as Krista Turnblom Gneiting. She is listed as an eighth-grade math teacher on the school’s website.
Gneiting posted a comment on the Rigby page thanking the community for its support.
“My heart is touched by all the incredible outpouring of love I’ve received. Thank you. I don’t want money, I just appreciate the incredible support of Rigby!!! I love my students so much! It is why I teach!! They make my heart happy every every day!!!! All of the staff at Rigby did their part and kept our wonderful children safe! Thank you! I love you all and we will get through this together,” the post read.
Anderson said many local police departments and sheriff’s offices, along with the Idaho State Police and the FBI, are investigating the shooting, which was captured on school security cameras.
All students were evacuated and sent to Rigby High School to be picked up by parents or bused home.
Jefferson School District Superintendent Chad Martin said an incident like this was the “worst nightmare a school district could ever face.” Martin said all classes in the district were going to be canceled Friday and that counseling services would be available to students and families at Rigby High School throughout the day.
A GoFundMe account set up Thursday afternoon identified the custodian who was shot as Jim Wilson.
Martin added that the school district trained with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and its own school resource officers multiple times during the school year to prepare for a potential school shooting.
“I don’t think we can ever fully be prepared, but I feel our staff reacted, and our students reacted, in the best possible way for the best possible outcome,” Martin said.
In the early afternoon, Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center spokeswoman Coleen Niemann said the hospital had released the adult who had been injured and that both pediatric patients were in fair condition.
The Idaho Falls Fire Department was dispatched at 9:15 a.m. to send ambulances to the school. Niemann said the hospital had temporarily suspended access to the building for “visitors not affected by this incident” but access had been restored as of 1:45 p.m.
Within hours of the shooting, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra and Idaho Education Association President Layne McInelly released statements saying they were ready to provide support to the district as the impacts of this shooting are revealed.
Lucy Long, a sixth-grade student at Rigby Middle School, shared her experience from inside the school with the Post Register. She said she heard two gunshots around 9:10 a.m. She said the classroom then went under lockdown: lights and computers were turned off and the students lined up against the wall.
Lucy said she was comforting her friends and began recording, so police would know what happened if the shooter came in. The audio contained mostly whispers, with one sentence audible.
“It’s real,” one of the students is heard saying.
Lucy’s father, Seth Long, said he got a text from his wife around 9:18 telling him the school was on lockdown. Parents, concerned for their children’s safety, were just pouring in as he arrived, he said.
Lucy said the lockdown ended around 10 a.m. An officer came into her classroom and escorted the students out. She said she saw blood on the floor in the hallway.
The Associated Press reported a similar account of what happened that morning from 12-year-old Yandel Rodriguez.
“Me and my classmate were just in class with our teacher — we were doing work — and then all of a sudden, here was a loud noise and then there were two more loud noises. Then there was screaming,” Rodriguez told the AP. “Our teacher went to check it out, and he found blood.”
Thursday’s shooting was not the first school shooting in the state but it appears to have been the most serious in terms of injuries. It also was not the first time that gun violence affected Jefferson School District.
In February 1989, a 14-year-old male at Rigby Junior High School threatened a teacher with a handgun and took a female student hostage. A Post Register article from the time said students were locked down for about an hour and the boy was taken into custody without any shots fired.
The last shooting at any Idaho school occurred in Twin Falls in 2016, when a student brought two stolen guns into Robert Stuart Middle School and accidentally fired one of them. No one was injured in that incident.
In 1999, a student snuck a shotgun into Notus Junior-Senior High School in Canyon County. The student fired two shots, including one that punched a hole through a steel gymnasium door, but no serious injuries were reported.