Teacher who tackled shooter 'thankful' students OK

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LACEY, Wash. - A student at North Thurston High School in Lacey  was tackled by a teacher after firing gunshots into the air, according to the school district.  No one was hurt.

Quick Facts: 

Emergency dispatchers confirmed reports of an active shooter on campus about 7:45 a.m. Monday.

Lacey police said the 16-year-old student, who had just transferred to the school from Mount Rainier High School, about a month ago, was arrested. Police said he fired one shot into the ground and one shot into the air before he was tackled. His gun was fully loaded before he started shooting, police said. They also searched his apartment after the incident on Monday.

Police said the shooter had taken the gun from his parents, who owned it legally. He allegedly told police he shot into the ground and air because he didn't want to hurt anyone.

Parents said they received an automated message that shots were fired into the air before the shooter was taken down.

Students were released to their parents at the football field, South Sound Stadium, the North Thurston School District said.

The district confirmed the teacher who tackled the shooter was Brady Olson.  According to his biography, Olson teaches AP government and politics, and civics. He has been with the school for about nine years and has a daughter at the school. He released the follow statement: 

 "No one, including myself, can prepare for a situation like this, so I'm very thankful that we're all okay.  As always, students come first, and today was no different," he wrote in part. Click here to read the full statement.  

"We will all group together as a staff and community, like we always do, and continue to put kids first!  North Thurston High School's staff handled this like every other staff in every city, in every state, across this country would.  I'm incredibly proud to be a member of the bigger community of educators who teach and take care of our kids every day. " 

Olson said three other staff members reacted the same way when shots were fired.

Students said the shots were fired in an upper hallway near the gym.  Some students fled out the back door of the gym, running to a Safeway or Lowe's store for safety.

<br> Students recall hearing shots in school

Anthony Rybalkin, 16, said he and a group of friends were hanging out near the lunch tables when he heard a loud boom. He looked up and saw a classmate from his sixth-period class walking down the stairs from the gym into the common area with a cigarette in his mouth and a gun in his hand.

"We thought it was fake for a second. Then he shot off another round," said Rybalkin, who said he was about 20 feet away from the shooter. "Everyone just started running out the back door."

Rybalkin tripped and fell as he ran away and turned his head to see if the shooter was coming his way. That's when he saw Olson come up behind the shooter and tackle him. Two other teachers or administrators jumped on the teen and held him down, Rybalkin said in a phone interview to the Associated Press.

"When Mr. Olson tackled him, he still had it (the gun) in his hand. I don't know if one of the other teachers took it or not," Rybalkin said. 

He said the shooter was a new student and had joined his class within the past week or so.

"He said he has military parents. We don't know if that's true or not," Rybalkin said.

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Junior Kyle Hemphill was another one of the students who heard gunshots.  He followed his friends out of the gym to the nearby Lowes, where the store locked students inside.

"I still thought my friends were just messing with me.  Then I saw people sprinting out the back and front and it was pretty scary," said Hemphill.

Senior Daniel Lemoine said he saw Brady holding down the shooter.

"I respect him [Brady], and this makes me have a little more respect for him now that he's risked his life for everybody," said Lemoine.

Middle school student Cameron Brandt said he was on the way to take a test when he heard about the shooting.

"I heard about the shooting and my heart just dropped," said Brandt.

Brandt didn't feel safe after the incident and asked his father to pick him up.

<br> The school district's ressponse 

School district spokeswoman Courtney Schrieve confirmed that the shooter was enrolled at the school, but she didn't know how long he had been a student.

Schrieve said the school was swept for a bomb as a precaution and was not sure if students would return Tuesday.

"The dangerous thing is it was right before school starts. The kids would have all been in the commons," Schrieve said.

The district had just been practicing active shooter drills, and "it obviously paid off," she said, touting Olson as a good person.

"He's a very large guy, he's a very popular teacher, and I can see him doing that," Schrieve said.

<br> The community says "thank you"

Dozens are sharing thanks on social media -- to Mr. Brady Olson. 

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