CENTENNIAL, Colo. (TheBlaze/AP) — Classmates said the student who walked into his suburban Denver high school with a shotgun looking for a specific teacher held communist views and was outspoken, smart, and not a loner.
Eighteen-year-old Karl Halverson Pierson critically wounded one student before apparently killing himself Friday at Arapahoe High School as police moved in. He was recently kicked off the speech and debate team.
Senior Chris Davis, 18, told CNN that Pierson was “a self-proclaimed communist, just wears Soviet shirts all the time.” The Wall Street Journal noted that Davis said Pierson once wore a shirt emblazoned with the letters U.S.S.R. and described himself as a communist.
An ABC News report noted that students said Pierson held communist views and liked to discuss current events and issues and pose his own solutions. None told ABC News that Pierson was bullied for his beliefs.
“He would speak for himself. He would not be afraid to tell someone how he feels,” Zach Runberg, 18 and a fellow senior who had an English class with Pierson, told ABC News.
Steve Miles, an English teacher who taught Pierson as a freshman, says the school librarian who ran the speech team cut Pierson from the team, but he didn’t know why.
KUSA-TV in Denver identified Pierson’s target as Tracy Murphy, who implemented “active-shooter protocols” after learning Pierson was asking for him and was armed. (Active shooter protocols include evacuating the grounds in a safe manner and placing the school on lockdown, KUSA said.)
The following report from KTLA-TV in Los Angeles doesn’t say Pierson held communist views, but it does note that neighbors said his family attended Bible study meetings:
This post has been updated with source material in addition to the Associated Press detailing student claims that Karl Pierson held communist views.