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Could the school shooting at Arapahoe High have been averted? | Deseret News National
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Brennan Linsley, Associated Press
Education

Could the school shooting at Arapahoe High have been averted?

Les than a month into 2014 there have been seven mass shootings in the United States.

Brandon Robinson was slain Jan. 24 outside of a dorm at South Carolina State University, and Andrew Boldt died after being shot in the basement of Purdue University’s electrical engineering building Jan. 21.

So far this year, a shooting occurs on the average of one every other school day. In addition to the deaths, six students have been hospitalized, according to Think Progress.

In 2013, there was a school shooting every two weeks. Think Progress notes that there were 28 shootings, and the Daily Beast reports that 17 individuals lost their lives.

Hundreds of other suspicions were taken seriously and at least one shooting was averted. The shooting at Arapahoe High School in December, however, was not prevented, although one person claims that it could have been.

“In post-Columbine America, threats against faculty or fellow students, erratic behavior, unusual fascination with weaponry” should never be ignored, wrote Jenny Dunn in the Los Angeles Times.

Cameron Rust, a school security guard at Arapahoe High School near Denver, said that warning signs were ignored. Karl Pierson killed Claire Davis and them himself on Dec. 13, 2013.

Rust, who was on duty that day, claims “policies and procedures that were put in place to protect the students and faculty were not followed.” He has since been put on administrative leave, while two additional school security guards at Arapahoe were put on leave and have since returned to work. Rust has been asked not to return this semester, according to the local CBS affiliate.

Rust was also a football and softball coach at the school and students have come to his support, according to the LA Times. They started a Facebook group to “bring back Cameron Rust AHS.” Membership is around 1,280.

An earlier LA Times article quotes a student at Arapahoe stating that Pierson “had become angrier” since September. Larson Ross, 18, said he was talking with friends about whether or not they should report that Pierson was “going off the edge” one hour before he entered the school with a shotgun in hand.

Cameron Rust told the Denver Post that school officials were aware that Pierson was a serious threat, and that they “discouraged him from putting his concerns about Pierson and other students in writing.” Rust wrote on Facebook that Pierson made two known death threats against educators in September 2013. He also states that in October, when he told administrators that Pierson was sitting alone in the cafeteria looking at guns on his computer, they replied, “there’s nothing we can do.”

According to the LA Times, Rust believes Pierson purchased a gun and ammunition more than one week before the incident, which may have been impossible had school officials acted earlier.

Should Pierson have received “the necessary help,” Rust said, “I doubt his feelings of anger would have consumed him.”

Last year, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper successfully championed legislation requiring universal background checks for in-state gun purchases and limiting magazine sizes.

Littleton Public Schools, which administers Arapahoe High, said in a statement that some information in the media “is based on inaccurate information, rumor and innuendo.” An investigation is ongoing.

The shooting at Arapahoe High took place on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., where 26 people died.

Arapahoe is in the Denver suburbs, 10 miles from Columbine High School. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold reportedly went bowling the morning of the Columbine massacre. Karl Pierson reportedly went bowling before fatally shooting himself and Claire Davis at Arapahoe.