DOUGLAS COUNTY, Ga — Lithia Springs High School cancelled classes Thursday after a teacher shot himself inside a classroom on campus. No students were involved or injured.
NewsChopper 2 was over the school just before 9 a.m., when students could be seen walking through the parking lot and then back into the building.
Douglas County sheriff’s officials said a school employee was flown to a hospital after suffering a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
School officials say classes will start at their regular time Friday and there will be counselors on hand for students and staff.
On Thursday afternoon, deputies announced the situation is now a criminal investigation. Sgt. Jesse Hambrick wouldn't say if the teacher left a note or where he shot himself.
“No students were in the building at the time. The campus has been secured and students are in the gym. Students may be picked up by a parent or guardian and buses will be available to take bus riders home. There will be no classes at Lithia Springs High School today,” Nell Boggs, Community Relations Specialist for the Douglas County School System, said Thursday morning.
Boggs said the shooting happened around 7:15 a.m. while the teacher was alone in his classroom. The teacher then stumbled into another classroom, and a second teacher called 911.
Channel 2's Liz Artz was at the school as parents started picking students up after the shooting.
During a news conference about the incident, the school's superintendent thanked first responders and emergency personnel for their swift efforts.
Sheriff's officials said student safety is the first priority of theirs and of the school board.
"There were no students who ever saw this. This was a very isolated incident," a sergeant said.
There were several hundred students who had made their way to the campus at the time of the shooting, but very few were inside at the time, sheriff's officials said.
High school senior Gustavo Ruiz was one of the students on campus.
"I was at school at 7:15 this morning. I didn't hear any gunshot," he said.
Authorities said there were only two people involved: the teacher who suffered the gunshot and another teacher who was able to call 911.
"He was able to call to another teacher to call 911 upon his behalf," the sergeant said.
Sheriff's deputies told Artz the teacher was stable as of 12 p.m.
They said he was airlifted to a local hospital. He was still alive at the time, they said.
Deputies said the teacher had been an employee at the school for 18 years.
They said that while the gunshot was self-inflicted, there is a criminal investigation.
Students told Artz the man is their math teacher. They said he has a wife and young daughter.
“His daughter is actually pretty smart. He bragged about her in class and loved her," Ruiz said.
School officials say grief counselors will remain on campus for how ever long they are needed.
"When one of your family is hurting, you hurt as well so we're suffering because our family member is in need," Hambrick said.
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