CENTENNIAL, Colo. — Support and concern for a 17-year-old girl critically wounded by a fellow student at a suburban Denver high school poured in Monday, both online and at a makeshift memorial at the school.
People offered prayers and left notes of support for Claire Davis at a fence at Arapahoe High School where white cups spelled out “Pray 4 Claire (Heart).” A notebook and a Christmas stocking filled with pens hung from the fence, while others left stuffed animal horses because of her love of riding.
School graduate Parker Semin, 21, said he knelt in front of the fence to pray for a speedy recovery.
On Twitter, people offered prayers in several languages for Davis, who is in a coma at a hospital a couple of miles away from the school.
Hundreds of students and other supporters turned out at the school’s track on Sunday to pray and show support for Davis, described as fun, bubbly and caring.
“She is someone we need back, and we’re hoping she gets better because Arapahoe won’t be the same without her,” LinsiAn Loadman-Copeland said.
Maggie Hurlbut recalled how she was upset in the hallway at school once and Davis, whom she didn’t know very well, stopped to ask her how she was doing and offer help.
“She just wants to take care of others,” she said.
Authorities believe she was shot at random by fellow senior Karl Pierson soon after he entered the school Friday armed with a shotgun, extra ammunition, a machete and three Molotov cocktails, looking for a faculty member with whom he had a dispute. Davis was sitting with a friend near the school library when Pierson shot her in the head point blank.
Pierson may have been nursing a grudge against a school librarian who coached the speech and debate team since September. Pierson excelled at speech and debate and was passionate about the team, friends said. They described him as a smart student who sometimes would get into debates with his teachers.
Pierson had been disciplined by the librarian for reasons yet to be disclosed, according to Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson. He has said Pierson threatened that teacher in September and came to the school Friday intending to harm him and inflict numerous other casualties.
The coroner confirmed Monday that Pierson committed suicide by shooting himself in the head. Robinson said Pierson killed himself 80 seconds after entering the school because he knew a deputy assigned to the school was closing in.
The investigation into the shooting continues, but authorities have finished their examination of the school building. Students will be allowed back later in the week to get their belongings, but with the holiday break scheduled for next week, they won’t be returning to class until January.