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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

After ‘There’s a Kid With a Gun’ Came ‘Teacher Down’

In a trembling voice, the student called 911 to ask for help as a shooting unfolded at a Nevada elementary school this week.

The student said: “This is a student from Sparks Middle School. Can you please send police out here? There is a kid with a gun.”

Witnesses are providing more detail about how a student opened fire at his Nevada school just after 7 a.m. on Monday, injuring two classmates and killing a teacher who tried to intervene before the student with the gun fatally shot himself.

In recordings of the emergency calls compiled by The Reno Gazette-Journal, the fearful moments as the shooting was under way were conveyed in broken descriptions: the shooter was “chasing” people around. Children had a gun pointed at them. Students and teachers were locked down.

And then another voice said:

“Teacher down.”

That man down has been identified as Michael Landsberry, 45, a math teacher who was a former Marine and national guardsman and had served at military installations abroad.

A statement released by the Nevada National Guard said he had served on assignments in 2006 in Kuwait and at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan in May 2011, performing air transportation functions.

According to witnesses, Mr. Landsberry, who was a master sergeant, had been in his classroom when he heard the shots and ran outside to try to intervene.

“Our understanding is that Mike, true to hero’s form, made an attempt to talk the shooter out of using his weapon before becoming a victim of this senseless tragedy,” Col. Jeffrey Burkett, the Nevada Air Guard’s 152nd Airlift Wing Commander, said at a news conference at the base.

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Another student, Jose Cazares, an eighth grader, described in an interview on NBC’s “Today” show how the teacher tried to intervene. He said he and his friends heard what they thought was the sound of firecrackers. Jose said:

So then we looked back toward where we saw the noise, and we saw the kid pull out his gun and shoot the kid in the arm, so then they started running and I froze because he was aiming his gun right at my chest. And I looked at the gun and my chest like, “He’s going to shoot me.” I turned around and I ran. I heard a gunshot, and I thought he shot me. Then I looked back, and he shot a kid in his leg, arm and stomach.

Mr. Landsberry stood between the student and the shooter. “He was telling him to stop and put the gun down, and then the kid, he yelled out ‘No!’ yelling at him, and he shot him,” Jose said. Mr. Landsberry “was calm and he was holding out his hand like, ‘Put the gun in my hand,’ like to just stop.”

Mr. Landsberry was married with two stepdaughters, the Nevada National Guard said.

Follow Christine Hauser on Twitter @christineNYT.