The student who shot another student and then himself with a shotgun at a suburban Denver high school was an ardent leftist who mocked Republicans on his now-apparently-defunct Facebook page.
The shooting occurred on Friday afternoon at Arapahoe High School. The gunman was senior Karl Pierson, who was seeking to settle a score with the speech-and-debate coach, according to fellow students.
Before he shot another student and killed himself, Pierson, 18, spouted quite a bit on social media, reports The Denver Post.
In one Facebook post, for example, Pierson ridiculed Republicans. He wrote “you republicans are so cute” above an image saying: “The Republican Party: Health Care: Let ’em Die, Climate Change: Let ’em Die, Gun Violence: Let ’em Die, Women’s Rights: Let ’em Die, More War: Let ’em Die. Is this really the side you want to be on?”
In another Facebook post, the scholarly senior attacked 18th-century classical economist Adam Smith.
“I was wondering to all the neoclassicals and neoliberals, why isn’t the market correcting itself?” Pierson wrote. “If the invisible hand is so strong, shouldn’t it be able to overpower regulations?”
In a separate Facebook post, the high school senior called himself “Keynesian.”
Students generally described Pierson as deeply opinionated.
“He was always the type that wanted to be right,” fellow senior Max Minne told local ABC affiliate KMGH. “He would always argue with the teacher about scholastic things, whatever we were talking about, he always had something to say. Never wanted anyone to tell him he was wrong.”
Minne added that Pierson “wasn’t a violent person, he was just verbally aggressive.”
Brendon Mendelson and Carl Schmidt, two Arapahoe High seniors who knew Pierson, told the Post that Pierson’s political views were “outside the mainstream.” They provided no additional details.
“He had very strong beliefs about gun laws and stuff,” junior Abbey Skoda told the paper. “I also heard he was bullied a lot.”
Pierson’s exact views about gun laws are not clear.
According to a student who was also on the debate team, Pierson was furious that he had been suspended for his remarks about killing the debate team coach, Tracy Murphy.
“Karl half-jokingly threatened to kill Mr. Murphy, and Mr. Murphy got him suspended for saying that,” the teammate, Joe Redmond, told the Daily News.
“Karl wanted to go to the Air Force Academy and they don’t look positively on suspensions so (Karl) felt like Mr. Murphy had ruined his life,” Redmond added.
Police initially thought that Pierson had shot two people before turning his shotgun on himself. However, one of those people was not shot. She was just covered in the blood of Pierson’s single victim.
Pierson did shoot a 17-year-old girl. She was airlifted to a local hospital where she remains in critical condition.
Murphy, the debate teacher, escaped the shooting uninjured, notes KMGH.