Nevada school shooting: Teacher killed as he tried to intervene

A Sparks Middle School student reacts after the shooting.
(Kevin Clifford / Associated Press)

SPARKS, Nev. - Family members of a teacher shot and killed by a student at Sparks Middle School on Monday said it did not surprise them that he had tried to stop the attack.

“It doesn’t surprise anybody that that’s what Michael would do,” said Chanda Landsberry, referring to her brother-in-law Michael Landsberry, who taught eighth-grade math at the school.

“It doesn’t feel real,” Landsberry said of her brother-in-law’s death. “It’s totally surreal to have it happen.”

PHOTOS: Sparks Middle School shooting


According to police and witnesses, a student at the school - wearing khakis, part of the Sparks Middle School uniform - opened fire shortly after 7 a.m., leaving Michael Landsberry dead and two students wounded. The shooter, who has not been identified, apparently then took his own life, police said.

According to the school’s website, Landsberry taught eighth-grade math.

Sparks police Sgt. Greta Woyciehowsky said the first 911 calls came about 7:15 a.m., about 15 minutes before classes began. The middle school is bustling at that time, she said, with parents dropping off children and buses unloading students as everyone crowds through the school’s lone entrance and exit for students.

The school is one of three middle schools in the Sparks Police Department’s jurisdiction, Woyciehowsky said. A fourth middle school is under the jurisdiction of the Washoe County Sheriff’s Department, she said. Sparks, about four miles east of Reno, has about 90,000 residents.

MAP: Sparks Middle School

The scene Monday morning was chaotic as emergency crews responded.

Elizabeth Alvarez, 33, lives in an apartment nearby and said about 7:15 a.m. she “heard a lot of sirens and the streets were full of police.”

Watching the news 25 minutes later, she heard early reports of what had happened and that middle school students had been evacuated to Agnes Risley Elementary School nearby. She went there to pick up her 13-year-old nephew, Juan Basurto, an eighth-grader who was walking to school at the time of the shooting.


She found him in the cafeteria, along with other middle school students. Alvarez said the children were not crying but were scared, including her nephew.

“He was frightened,” Alvarez said, speaking in Spanish. “He said a boy had shot a teacher and two other kids.”

Alvarez dropped off her nephew at his home, then returned to her apartment where her two daughters, a fifth-grader and first-grader, were because school had been canceled following the shooting.

She said she witnessed parents running down the street in front of the middle school, because police had blocked off access to vehicles.


Hours later the streets were quiet, but there was still a heavy police presence and traffic was limited in front of the school.

Dale Lundin, site facilities coordinator at the middle school, said it was “a very scary morning.”

“It’s that same old story ... you never really think that it’s going to happen at your place of work, or in this case, your school. When it does happen, it kind of puts you in shock,” he said.

Sparks Middle School caters to seventh- and eighth-graders and students are between 12 and 14 years old.


“We have 20 to 30 student witnesses,” Woyciehowsky said, adding that no other students were believed to be involved in the attack.

On Monday, Michael Landsberry’s personal website still featured what he called his one classroom rule:

“You are asking yourself what annoys me, it depends on any given day. Just like you I have good days and bad days. What may bother me one day may not the next. A very good skill to learn is reading people and their moods. ... One of my goals is to earn your respect while you earn mine. I believe that with mutual respect that the classroom environment will run smoothly.”



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