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Colorado governor pleads for school shooting victim

  • Roses and a sign of support are woven into a cyclone fence around a tennis court at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo., on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013. The school was the scene of a shooting on Friday that left a student gunman dead and two other students injured. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

    Roses and a sign of support are woven into a cyclone fence around a tennis court at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo., on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013. The school was the scene of a shooting on Friday that left a student gunman dead and two other students injured. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

  • Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson holds a picture of Claire Davis the 17-year-old student that was shot during a briefing Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013, at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo. Davis was shot by 18-year-old shooting suspect Karl Halverson Pierson at the school on Friday before he took his own life. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

    Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson holds a picture of Claire Davis the 17-year-old student that was shot during a briefing Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013, at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo. Davis was shot by 18-year-old shooting suspect Karl Halverson Pierson at the school on Friday before he took his own life. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

  • Media cover a briefing by Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson  Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013, at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo., where 18-year-old shooting suspect Karl Halverson Pierson shot student Claire Davis, 17,on Friday, then turned the gun on himself. AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

    Media cover a briefing by Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013, at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo., where 18-year-old shooting suspect Karl Halverson Pierson shot student Claire Davis, 17,on Friday, then turned the gun on himself. AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

  • Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson  speaks at a briefing Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013, at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo., where 18-year-old shooting suspect Karl Halverson Pierson shot a  student on Friday, then turned the gun on himself. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

    Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson speaks at a briefing Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013, at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo., where 18-year-old shooting suspect Karl Halverson Pierson shot a student on Friday, then turned the gun on himself. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

  • Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson  speaks at a briefing Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013, at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo., where 18-year-old shooting suspect Karl Halverson Pierson shot a  student on Friday, then turned the gun on himself. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

    Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson speaks at a briefing Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013, at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo., where 18-year-old shooting suspect Karl Halverson Pierson shot a student on Friday, then turned the gun on himself. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

  • The front door at the Highlands Ranch, Colo., home of the 18-year-old shooting suspect Karl Halverson Pierson is covered with plywood on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013, after the police searched the home. Pierson critically wounded one student, before apparently killing himself Friday at Arapahoe High School as police moved in.  (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

    The front door at the Highlands Ranch, Colo., home of the 18-year-old shooting suspect Karl Halverson Pierson is covered with plywood on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013, after the police searched the home. Pierson critically wounded one student, before apparently killing himself Friday at Arapahoe High School as police moved in. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

  • Sean Sweeney, a runner who lives near Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo., pauses to say a prayer for the victims and the gunman of a shooting at the school during his early morning run on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013. The school was the scene of a shooting on Friday that left the student gunman dead and two other students injured. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

    Sean Sweeney, a runner who lives near Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo., pauses to say a prayer for the victims and the gunman of a shooting at the school during his early morning run on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013. The school was the scene of a shooting on Friday that left the student gunman dead and two other students injured. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

  • A deputy of the Arapahoe County, Colo., Sheriff's Department walks next to crime scene tape in front of a doorway to Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo., on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013. The school was the scene of a shooting on Friday that left the student gunman dead and two other students injured. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

    A deputy of the Arapahoe County, Colo., Sheriff's Department walks next to crime scene tape in front of a doorway to Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo., on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013. The school was the scene of a shooting on Friday that left the student gunman dead and two other students injured. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

  • Chris Davis, a senior who plays basketball at Arapahoe High School, hangs a sign to raise money for the victim in a shooting at the school in Centennial, Colo., on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013. Investigators were working to find out what motivated a teenage gunman to enter his suburban Denver high school armed with a shotgun looking for a specific teacher a day earlier.  The 18-year-old shooter critically wounded a 15-year-old student and was later found dead in the school, apparently of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

    Chris Davis, a senior who plays basketball at Arapahoe High School, hangs a sign to raise money for the victim in a shooting at the school in Centennial, Colo., on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013. Investigators were working to find out what motivated a teenage gunman to enter his suburban Denver high school armed with a shotgun looking for a specific teacher a day earlier. The 18-year-old shooter critically wounded a 15-year-old student and was later found dead in the school, apparently of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

  • Sharon Adams looks through a 2013 Arapahoe High School yearbook at her home near the school in Centennial, Colo., on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013. The Adams daughter is a cheerleader at the school and escaped unharmed. Pierson critically wounded one student, before apparently killing himself Friday at Arapahoe High School as police moved in. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

    Sharon Adams looks through a 2013 Arapahoe High School yearbook at her home near the school in Centennial, Colo., on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013. The Adams daughter is a cheerleader at the school and escaped unharmed. Pierson critically wounded one student, before apparently killing himself Friday at Arapahoe High School as police moved in. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

  • Freshman Allie Zadrow, center right, hugs classmate Liz Reinhardt at a church after a shooting at nearby Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo., on Friday, Dec. 13, 2013. Students from the school were evacuated to the church. Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said the shooter shot two others at the school, before apparently killing himself. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

    Freshman Allie Zadrow, center right, hugs classmate Liz Reinhardt at a church after a shooting at nearby Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo., on Friday, Dec. 13, 2013. Students from the school were evacuated to the church. Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said the shooter shot two others at the school, before apparently killing himself. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

  • Roses and a sign of support are woven into a cyclone fence around a tennis court at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo., on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013. The school was the scene of a shooting on Friday that left a student gunman dead and two other students injured. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
  • Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson holds a picture of Claire Davis the 17-year-old student that was shot during a briefing Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013, at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo. Davis was shot by 18-year-old shooting suspect Karl Halverson Pierson at the school on Friday before he took his own life. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)
  • Media cover a briefing by Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson  Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013, at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo., where 18-year-old shooting suspect Karl Halverson Pierson shot student Claire Davis, 17,on Friday, then turned the gun on himself. AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)
  • Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson  speaks at a briefing Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013, at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo., where 18-year-old shooting suspect Karl Halverson Pierson shot a  student on Friday, then turned the gun on himself. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)
  • Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson  speaks at a briefing Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013, at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo., where 18-year-old shooting suspect Karl Halverson Pierson shot a  student on Friday, then turned the gun on himself. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)
  • The front door at the Highlands Ranch, Colo., home of the 18-year-old shooting suspect Karl Halverson Pierson is covered with plywood on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013, after the police searched the home. Pierson critically wounded one student, before apparently killing himself Friday at Arapahoe High School as police moved in.  (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)
  • Sean Sweeney, a runner who lives near Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo., pauses to say a prayer for the victims and the gunman of a shooting at the school during his early morning run on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013. The school was the scene of a shooting on Friday that left the student gunman dead and two other students injured. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
  • A deputy of the Arapahoe County, Colo., Sheriff's Department walks next to crime scene tape in front of a doorway to Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo., on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013. The school was the scene of a shooting on Friday that left the student gunman dead and two other students injured. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
  • Chris Davis, a senior who plays basketball at Arapahoe High School, hangs a sign to raise money for the victim in a shooting at the school in Centennial, Colo., on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013. Investigators were working to find out what motivated a teenage gunman to enter his suburban Denver high school armed with a shotgun looking for a specific teacher a day earlier.  The 18-year-old shooter critically wounded a 15-year-old student and was later found dead in the school, apparently of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
  • Sharon Adams looks through a 2013 Arapahoe High School yearbook at her home near the school in Centennial, Colo., on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013. The Adams daughter is a cheerleader at the school and escaped unharmed. Pierson critically wounded one student, before apparently killing himself Friday at Arapahoe High School as police moved in. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)
  • Freshman Allie Zadrow, center right, hugs classmate Liz Reinhardt at a church after a shooting at nearby Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo., on Friday, Dec. 13, 2013. Students from the school were evacuated to the church. Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said the shooter shot two others at the school, before apparently killing himself. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

Colorado’s governor asked the nation yesterday for prayers for the 17-year-old girl who was critically wounded by a classmate at her suburban Denver high school.

Gov. John Hickenlooper also credited security procedures adopted after the 1999 massacre at nearby Columbine High School for helping put a quick end to the Arapahoe High School shooting by Karl Pierson, an 18-year-old student who shot Claire Davis at point-blank range before killing himself.

“We all have to keep Claire in our thoughts and prayers,” he told CBS’s Face the Nation. Davis is hospitalized at Littleton Adventist Hospital.

Davis is in critical condition and stable, but she is in a coma, her family said in a statement issued on the hospital’s Facebook page yesterday.

“The first responders got Claire to the right place, at the right time,” the family said. They also praised the care she was receiving and expressed thanks for the outpouring of prayers and support.

About 500 classmates held a candlelight vigil Saturday for Davis, who was sitting with a friend near the school library when she was shot in the head. Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson has said investigators think she was shot at random by Pierson, who had gone into the school looking for a teacher with whom he had a dispute.

Pierson may have been nursing a grudge against the teacher – a librarian and head of the school debate team – since September. Pierson was on the team and had been disciplined by the librarian for reasons yet to be disclosed, the sheriff said. He said Pierson threatened that teacher in September and came to the school Friday intending to harm him and inflict numerous other casualties.

Pierson excelled at speech and debate and was passionate about the team, friends said. They described him as a smart student who apparently didn’t shirk from confrontations in class.

“He’s a funny kid. He’s smart. He’s in the Eagle Scouts, a very intelligent kid. Did not like being wrong,” said August Clary, who was a friend of Pierson. “If you’re arguing with him, it’s going to be, that’s a feat if you win an argument against him.”

“He would not be afraid to tell someone how he feels,” said Zach Runberg, 18, a senior in Pierson’s English class.

Pierson legally bought a shotgun Dec. 6 at a local store, and he purchased ammunition the morning of the shootings. He managed to ignite a Molotov cocktail inside the school library before he killed himself as a fast-acting school security officer, a deputy sheriff, closed in, Robinson said.

That officer’s aggressive response prevented more casualties, Robinson said. It’s a tactic adopted nationwide after Columbine, in which first responders cordoned off the school before pursuing two student gunmen inside. The two killed 12 students and a teacher before killing themselves.

“It’s nice to see how well the system worked. It’s a remarkable improvement from before. This could have been much, much worse,” Hickenlooper said.

After the Aurora, Colo., theater shootings and the Newtown, Conn., school shootings, Colorado’s Democrat-led legislature this year implemented gun control measures that limited the size of ammunition magazines and instituted universal background checks. Colorado also appropriated more than $20 million for mental health hotlines and local crisis centers.

The measures were intended to address violence associated with so-called assault rifles, not shotguns that are widely owned for hunting and sport.

Hickenlooper acknowledged the latest shooting again raised questions about guns and violence. But he noted that Pierson “didn’t seem to exhibit any signs of mental illness,” and he cautioned that the investigation was in its early stages.

“Everyone in Colorado is asking the same questions,” the governor said. “On the one hand there is a deeply held conviction for the freedoms laid out in the Second Amendment, but also a very, very strong conviction about the safety of children and the safety of the community.”

Friday’s shooting, he said, “defies any explanation, and you know we are searching for some pattern.”

Legacy Comments1

Ok..so the Democrats in Colorado passed all the gun laws, universal background checks, limited the size of ammunition magazines, and appropriated more than $20 million for mental health hotlines and local crisis centers. Great...none of that worked..a kid just waltzed into a school with a shotgun, machete and Molotov cocktails. Try listening to the NRA...they had it right.

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