AZTEC, N.M.—Students hid in their classrooms, some behind locked doors or in closets, as a gunman opened fire Thursday inside a New Mexico high school, killing two classmates before he ended up dead.
Authorities and other officials in the small town of Aztec near the Colorado border have released few details other than to say the shooter and two victims attended Aztec High School.
No other injuries were reported, and it wasn’t clear if the shooter committed suicide or was killed by police.
Bryn Divine, a senior, said she was sitting at her desk in her history class when she heard gunshots erupt down the hall. At first, it sounded as if someone was swinging a metal baseball bat against the lockers.
Then she heard an announcement over the school intercom: “This is not a drill.”
“I stayed in my desk, and I just prayed, ‘Please just let this be over as soon as possible.’ That was my first reaction,” she said.
Gov. Susana Martinez called the shooting a heinous and horrific act and told reporters that teachers, school staff and law enforcement jumped in quickly to prevent more deaths. She didn’t provide more details.
Police responded to the school less than a minute after getting the initial calls, which came shortly after the start of the first period. With the school in lockdown, they got inside through a window and a door.
Authorities checked each room and each building at the school before the students were bused to another location where they were reunited with their parents.
The high school remained cordoned off as the community prepared for a prayer vigil Thursday night. Aztec is a rural town of 6,500 people in the heart of northwestern New Mexico’s oil and gas country and near the Navajo Nation. Its main street is lined by old brick buildings that date back more than a century.
Local, state and federal authorities said at a news conference that they had a lot of evidence to process and many interviews to conduct. They also were asking any students who might have seen something to call police.
School Superintendent Kirk Carpenter choked up, describing it as a tough day.
“At schools, our primary role and our primary job is to educate students and keep them safe, and when you have something like this, it hits you in the heart,” Mr. Carpenter said.
Aztec school officials said schools across town that shut down Thursday will likely stay closed Friday.
—Copyright 2017 the Associated Press