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Amid hatred, friends of Colorado shooter express sadness, sympathy

Freshman Allie Zadrow, center right, hugs classmate Liz Reinhardt at a church after a shooting at nearby Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo. Students from the school were evacuated to the church.
Freshman Allie Zadrow, center right, hugs classmate Liz Reinhardt at a church after a shooting at nearby Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo. Students from the school were evacuated to the church.
(Brennan Linsley / Associated Press)

As the story came together piece by piece of the shooting at a Colorado high school Friday, people around the world took to social media to follow along and express dismay and anger.

Officials said that Karl Pierson, 18, a senior at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, had come on campus with a gun looking for a teacher. The teacher fled, but a girl was injured when Pierson opened fire. She was taken to a hospital and was in critical condition. Pierson killed himself, police said.

Each new detail brought a renewed flurry of activity on Twitter, and by Friday night the phrase “Arapahoe High School” was trending worldwide.

The frantic tweets from earlier in the day looking for answers to simple questions -- How many injured? How many shooters? How many schools? -- were replaced in the evening by tweets looking for answers to a bigger question: Why? Why another school shooting?

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The shooting came just a day before the first anniversary of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where 20 children were killed by a lone gunman. And Centennial is less than 10 miles east of Columbine High School in Littleton, where two teenage shooters killed 12 classmates and a teacher, then killed themselves, in 1999.

But while people hundreds of miles from Arapahoe High School found blame in Pierson and posted words of hatred directed at him, people who said they knew Pierson saw things a little differently.

I personally knew the shooter. I cant believe he could do this. he was such a sweet heart. my heart goes out to his family.— Mary Meyers (@marbearmeyers) December 14, 2013

Even though he made a mistake, karl was a genuine person All of Arapahoe is in our prayers— Dani Berger (@danibergerr) December 14, 2013

Please pray for everyone who was directly impacted by today. Not only for the victims, but for Karl too. Bc I knew him & this is so surreal¿¿¿¿— Spencer Haddy (@spencerhaddy) December 14, 2013

I knew Karl and although what he did is not okay it’s still sad that he killed himself. I’m so glad no one else died.— Lexi Hellman (@lexihellman) December 14, 2013

Seeing these pictures of Karl is so weird. I never knew him as that type of kid. Too surreal. Just another lost soul— Zach Braxton (@zach_b34) December 14, 2013

Of course I might not agree with some of his actions, Karl was a nice, genuine human being and it is so sad to know that he is gone.— Madeline Pickett (@Madeline0402) December 14, 2013

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Idk why Karl would do that. He was a nice guy when i met him— ¿ Tay ¿ (@ImDatingMahone) December 14, 2013

Twitter: @skarlamangla

soumya.karlamangla@latimes.com

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