Aztec High School shooting
|Aztec High School shooting|
|Date||December 7, 2017 |
8:04 a.m. (UTC–7)
|School shooting, murder-suicide|
|Weapons||9mm Glock 19 Gen4|
|Deaths||3 (including the perpetrator)|
On December 7, 2017, gunfire erupted at Aztec High School in Aztec, New Mexico, United States. The shooter, 21-year-old William Atchison, a former student at the school, killed two students in a hallway, then went inside a classroom where students had barricaded themselves in a small office area and fired several rounds before continuing on down the hall where he finally committed suicide as police approached his location.
William Atchison walked into Aztec High School disguised as a student and armed with a handgun. He opened fire in the upper level hallway of the 800-900 building. The school custodian, Thomas "Emery" Hill, chased after the gunman shouting "active shooter," "lock down!" Katie Potter, a 74-year-old substitute teacher, heard the gunshots and the following loudspeaker announcement calling for a lock-down. As a substitute teacher Ms. Potter did not have keys to the classroom, so she ushered her 17 students into the classroom office and barricaded the door with a couch. Atchison fired multiple rounds through the office wall and then shot himself. San Juan County Sheriff Ken Christensen credited her swift action with saving many lives.
Two students were confirmed dead, along with the shooter. State authorities confirmed that there were no other injuries reported. Officials said that Aztec police received a call about the shooting about 8:00 a.m.
Students were in class at the time, and heard what they thought was someone punching the lockers. As the noise became louder, they realized it was gunfire. Teachers and students hid in locked classrooms until they were told by officials to walk out of the room toward the back of the building and the parking lot; they were later picked up by their parents at McGee Park.
Casey Jordan Marquez, a senior, and Francisco "Paco" Fernandez, a junior, were identified as the victims. Both were student-athletes at Aztec High School. Marquez was a cheerleader and Fernandez, a recent transfer to the school, played football.
William Edward Atchison
March 18, 1996
|Died||December 7, 2017 (aged 21)|
Aztec, New Mexico
|Cause of death||Self-inflicted gunshot wound|
|Date||December 7, 2017|
c. 8:04 a.m.
|Location(s)||Aztec, New Mexico|
|Target(s)||Students at Aztec High School|
|Killed||3 (including himself)|
William Edward Atchison (March 18, 1996 – December 7, 2017) lived in Aztec, New Mexico with his father, and was a former student at Aztec High School. He dropped out of high school before graduation and worked at a local gas station. When Atchison entered Aztec High School on December 7, 2017 at approximately 8:04 a.m., he was "disguised as a student" and carrying a backpack with a 9mm Glock 19 Gen4 semi-automatic pistol inside. Atchison had no criminal record; however, he was investigated by the FBI in March 2016 due to posts he had made online indicating that he was interested in purchasing weapons to carry out a mass shooting. He came to the attention of the FBI when he asked on an internet forum "where to find cheap assault rifles for a mass shooting." Atchison told FBI investigators that he was simply trolling, and the investigation was closed when it was determined that he did not own a gun. Atchison subsequently purchased the pistol used in the attack in November, 2017.
Atchison's online activity included posting pro-Hitler forums and websites, under such usernames as "Future Mass Shooter" and "Adam Lanza," and joking about school shootings, in particular the Columbine High School massacre. Via a Steam chat group he was in contact with the perpetrator of the 2016 Munich shooting. He also posted about his frustration with life in rural New Mexico and bleak career prospects. Atchison called his father a "fat lazy idiot who watches Fox News all day" and his mother "a psycho hillbilly drunk from Florida who's really mentally ill."
A schedule for the killings was found at Atchison's home, with the last entry being "8[a.m.] Die." A thumb drive discovered on his person contained the same schedule.
- Gun violence in the United States
- List of rampage killers in the United States
- List of school shootings in the United States
- List of school-related attacks
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