SPARKS, Nev. — Juliet Solomon said she was more anxious than her 12-year-old son as he returned to class at Sparks Middle School on Monday, a week after a fellow seventh-grader fatally shot a popular math teacher and wounded two classmates before killing himself.
“I’m still scared. I still have bad feelings,” Solomon said after dropping off her boy before the morning bell Monday, the first day classes are being held since the chaotic schoolyard attack.
“My son is so innocent. I’m more worried than him,” she told The Associated Press on a chilly morning.
Police are still trying to determine what prompted 12-year-old Jose Reyes to kill Michael Landsberry, 45, a math teacher who had also served as Marine. Landsberry tried to talk the youth into turning over the semi-automatic handgun before Reyes shot him in the chest as students arrived for class last Monday.
Washoe County School District Police Chief Mike Mieras said more officers and counselors were on hand to greet the students but he would not discuss any other potential changes in safety procedures at the school about 5 miles northeast of downtown Reno.
District Assistant Police Chief Jason Trevino said he did not anticipate any new information about the investigation would be released on Monday.
“I think overall the kids are doing real well,” Trevino said Monday as the sun rose and students filtered onto campus. “They seemed happy to see their friends and teachers.”
Police have said Reyes got the gun from his home and Washoe County prosecutors said a parent or guardian could be charged if they knowingly made the weapon available to the boy. They say they have not been presented with any such criminal case at this point.
It was a crisp, sunny autumn morning when Solomon dropped her son off last Monday apparently within minutes of the attack. Reyes shot one 12-year-old boy in the shoulder, Landsberry in the chest and another 12-year-old in the stomach before committing suicide on an asphalt basketball court behind the school in a span of about 3 minutes.
“I had already heard sirens and there were a lot of police cars when we got here,” Solomon said. “A police lady starting yelling, ‘Get out of here. Get out of here,’ so I told my son to stay in the car.”
She said she had discussed the shooting with her son and tried to reassure him Sunday night his school is safe.
“We always tell him we love him and don’t worry, we will always be here for him,” she said.
Bridgette Grider, said her seventh-grade daughter, Skylah, was among those finding it difficult to talk about the shooting. She was scared to return to school because she remembers hearing gunshots and walking past the bodies on the ground, she said.
“She doesn’t like to think about it,” Grider told the Reno Gazette-Journal. “All I can do is be there for her. We are just taking it day by day.”
Washoe County School Superintendent Pedro Martinez greeted students as they returned Monday to the school with an enrollment of 630. He said the school was full and believed very few had decided to stay home.
“Many seem happy to be back,” Martinez told AP. “Especially with middle-schoolers, I think they are looking for some sense of normalcy. It’s still going to take a while, but this is the beginning of the healing process.”