Arapahoe High School vigil

Hundreds of Arapahoe High School students gathered for a candlelight vigil Saturday night in Centennial, Colo., to pray for Claire Davis, who is in a coma after being shot by a fellow student. (Karl Gehring / Denver Post / December 14, 2013)

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The parents of a Colorado high school student who critically wounded a classmate before fatally shooting himself apologized Monday and said they were praying for his victim's recovery.

"We are shattered by the tragic events that took place on Friday at Arapahoe High School," Barbara and Mark Pierson said in a statement to local media.

Karl Pierson, 18, killed himself with a shotgun blast to the head after storming through Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo. Officials said he fired several shots while moving through the school, apparently in search of his debate-team coach, who had recently disciplined him.

Before shooting himself in the library, he shot Claire Davis in the face, apparently at random, officials said. Davis, 17, is in a coma.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Claire Davis and her family. They, and she, have suffered unimaginably, and we pray for her full recovery," the Piersons said. "We also pray for the entire Arapahoe High School community, as we know your lives are forever changed by this horrific event."

Parents of school shooters commonly face intense pressure after the incidents. Eighty-five percent of respondents to a 2000 Pew Research survey said it was parents' responsibility to prevent school massacres.

Not far from Centennial, in Columbine, the parents of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were sued by the survivors of the 1999 Columbine High School massacre and the families of the dead. Harris' and Klebold's families had issued brief statements after the rampage that left 12 students and a teacher dead, as well as the two gunmen. Years later, the parents were deposed in federal court by the victims' families. Their testimony is under seal until 2027. All the lawsuits were eventually settled.

More recently, the parents of a 12-year-old Sparks, Nev., boy who fatally shot a teacher and wounded two students before killing himself on Oct. 21 issued an apology, in which they balanced the community's tragedy with their own.

On Monday, Karl Pierson's family said they were similarly devastated.

"As parents, we loved our son Karl dearly and we are devastated by what happened Friday," their statement said. "We cannot begin to understand why Karl did what he did. We ask for privacy during this unthinkably difficult time and hope that you will respect our need for time to grieve."

Arapahoe High School's students and staff were also grappling with the aftermath of the shooting. Counselors had reported for duty Monday and were scheduled to continue their work Tuesday. The school remains closed, with classes not expected to resume until after winter break.

On Wednesday, faculty and staff can return to the school to get their things, followed by the students on Thursday, Littleton Public Schools said in a news release. Counselors were expected to be on the scene.

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