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Police: Gunman disguised himself, randomly killed at school

  • Aztec High School students and area residents gather for a candlelight vigil in Aztec, N.M., Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, after a shooting at the high school. Students hid in their classrooms, some behind locked doors, as a suspect opened fire Thursday inside the school, killing two classmates before he died. (AP Photo/Russell Contreras) Russell Contreras

  • People gather for a vigil at St. Joseph Church in Aztec, N.M., Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017. Students hid in their classrooms, some behind locked doors or in closets, as a gunman opened fire Thursday inside a New Mexico high school. (AP Photo/Russell Contreras) Russell Contreras

  • Aztec High School is shown in Aztec, N.M., Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017. Students hid in their classrooms, some behind locked doors or in closets, as a gunman opened fire Thursday inside a New Mexico high school, (AP Photo/Russell Contreras) Russell Contreras

  • People gather for a vigil at St. Joseph Church in Aztec, N.M., Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, Students hid in their classrooms, some behind locked doors or in closets, as a gunman opened fire Thursday inside a New Mexico high school, (AP Photo/Russell Contreras) Russell Contreras

  • A San Juan County Sheriff's deputy prepares for a press conference in Aztec, N.M. on Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, after a school shooting at the city's high school. Students hid in their classrooms, some behind locked doors, as a suspect opened fire Thursday inside Aztec High School, killing two classmates before ending up dead. (AP Photo/Russell Contreras) Russell Contreras

  • Students are led out of Aztec High School after a shooting Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, in Aztec, N.M. The school is in the Four Corners region and is near the Navajo Nation. (Jon Austria /The Daily Times via AP) Jon Austria

  • Police escort buses moving students and faculty from Aztec High School after a shooting Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, in Aztec, N.M. (Jon Austria /The Daily Times via AP) Jon Austria

  • Buses begin to move students and faculty from Aztec High School after a shooting Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, in Aztec, N.M. (Jon Austria /The Daily Times via AP) Jon Austria



Associated Press
Friday, December 08, 2017

A 21-year-old gunman who disguised himself as a student to get into a New Mexico high school where he killed two students had caught the attention of U.S. investigators more than a year ago, authorities said Friday.

William Atchison, a former student at small-town Aztec High School, had legally purchased a handgun at a local store a month ago and planned the attack, authorities said. He left a message on a thumb drive found on his body that detailed his plan to wait until the students got off buses and made their way to class.

He walked into the school with them and went into a second-floor bathroom to “gear up.” Atchison’s plan was to shoot up a classroom and then kill himself.

“Work sucks, school sucks, life sucks. I just want out of this (expletive),” he wrote.

More lives could have been lost had Francisco I. Fernandez not walked into the bathroom, authorities said. That’s when the gunman shot Fernandez. Atchison walked out into the hallway and encountered the second victim, Casey J. Marquez, and killed her.

The gunman then walked up and down the hall, firing randomly, before killing himself, authorities said.

Authorities said the shooter did not have a criminal record, much less a traffic ticket. The only contact with law enforcement was what they described as a generic message on an online gaming forum in 2016 in which he talked about what weapons might be used in a mass shooting.

The FBI said the posting was flagged and investigators talked with the gunman at his home in Aztec, where he lives with his parents. At the time, he did not own any weapons other than an airsoft pellet gun and said he had no plans for an attack and just liked to troll sites online.