A teenager who killed his father at their home Wednesday was stopped by a volunteer firefighter as he opened fire outside a South Carolina elementary school, wounding two students and a teacher, authorities said.
The teen was apprehended within minutes of the shooting in this rural town about 110 miles northeast of Atlanta. One student was shot in the leg and the other in the foot, Capt. Garland Major with the Anderson County Sheriff's Office said. Both students were male. The female teacher was hit in the shoulder.
"We are heartbroken about this senseless act of violence," said Joanne Avery, superintendent of Anderson County School District 4. She canceled classes at the school for the rest of the week.
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Authorities said the shootings began at the teen's house about two miles from the school, where he gunned down his 47-year-old father, Jeffrey Osborne. Authorities have not released the suspect's name or age beyond saying that he's a teen.
Crying and upset, the teen called his grandmother's cellphone at 1:44 p.m., Anderson County Coroner Greg Shore said. The grandparents couldn't understand what was going on, so they went to his home just 100 yards away. When they got there, they found Osborne had been shot and their grandson was gone.
About one minute later, authorities received a 911 call from Townville Elementary School.
Sheriff John Skipper said the shooter drove a vehicle into the school parking lot and immediately started firing a handgun as he got out and moved toward the school. He did not know who the vehicle was registered to, and he declined to say how many shots were fired.
The shooter never entered the school building, though, and was apprehended by firefighter Jamie Brock, a 30-year veteran of the Townville Volunteer Fire Department
Television images showed officers swarming the school after the report of an active shooter. Some were on top of the roof while others were walking around the building. Students were driven away on buses accompanied by police officers.
Skipper didn't have specifics on how Brock stopped the teen: "I think he just took him down."
He said the fire station is close to the school and Brock arrived before other emergency responders.
"Firefighter Brock is absolutely a hero," said Scott Stoller with Anderson County Emergency Management. But he says Brock "wants to remain humble and quiet about it" as he believes "he did nothing any of the other volunteer firefighters wouldn't have done."
Authorities did not release a motive for the shooting and said they weren't sure if the students and teacher were targeted. The sheriff said the teen had been homeschooled.
"There are no racial undertones there. There's no terrorism involved," Major said. "We're confident we have the sole shooter and no one else is involved."
Skipper said the teen's mother was at work at the time of the shooting.
One of the students and the teacher were released from the hospital, AnMed Health spokeswoman Juana Slade said. Greenville Health System spokeswoman Sandy Dees said the other student, Jacob Hall, remained in critical condition Wednesday evening.
The students were bused to a nearby church where they hugged and kissed their parents as they reunited.
The rural school surrounded by working farms has about 300 students in its pre-kindergarten to sixth-grade classrooms.
"This is the country," Brandi Pierce, the mother of a sixth-grader, told The Associated Press as she began to cry. "You don't have this in the country. It just don't exist out here."
Jamie Meredith, a student's mother, said some of the children went into a bathroom during the shooting.
"I don't know how they knew to go in the bathroom, but I know her teacher was shaken up. I know all the kids were scared. There was a bunch of kids crying. She didn't talk for about 5 minutes when I got her," she told WYFF.
Gov. Nikki Haley released a statement shortly after the shooting.
"As we work together with law enforcement to make sure they have the support they need to investigate what happened in Townville, Michael and I ask that everyone across South Carolina join us in praying for the entire Townville Elementary School family and those touched by today's tragedy."
The town is situated along Interstate 85 near the Georgia-South Carolina state line.