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Coroner: Colorado school shooter killed himself with a shotgun blast

Suicide

The student who opened fire in a Colorado high school last week died of a self-inflicted shotgun wound to the head, the county coroner announced on Monday.

Karl Pierson, 18, committed suicide after critically wounding a student in the Arapahoe High School on Friday. Pierson had entered the school looking for the librarian and debating coach with whom he had a dispute, officials said.

According to a statement by the coroner’s office, Pierson’s death was from “a severe head injury due to a shotgun wound to the head. The manner of death is classified as suicide.”

The wounded student, Claire Davis, was shot when fellow senior Pierson entered the building with his legally purchased shotgun, ammunition, a machete and backpack containing incendiary devices, according Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson. In a televised weekend news conference, Robinson said Davis was an innocent victim who was shot at point-blank range.

Davis is in critical condition and stable and in a coma, her family said in a statement released by the hospital.

 “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.

Pierson legally purchased the shotgun Dec. 6, Robinson said. Pierson purchased the ammunition the morning of the shootings. He managed to ignite a Molotov cocktail inside the school library before he killed himself as a 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 the Columbine shootings, 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 in 1999 at a high school about eight miles from Arapahoe.

Arapahoe High School was closed on Monday and will not reopen until after the holiday break. Students will be allowed to visit the school to retrieve their personal effects later this week, officials said.

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