PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — Following an autopsy on the 15-year-old shooter at Reynolds High School Tuesday, police said freshman student Jared Michael Padgett died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after killing 14-year-old freshman Emilio Hoffman.
Troutdale Police Chief Scott Anderson said Padgett was found carrying an AR-15 assault rifle used in the shooting, along with nine magazines of ammunition, capable of firing several hundred rounds. It is for this reason Anderson said the fast response by Troutdale Police school resource officers saved many lives.
Padgett exchanged gunfire with police, but was not killed by that exchange, Anderson said.
Padgett arrived at the school on a bus, carrying a guitar case and a duffel bag, said Anderson. He then entered the school’s building through the gymnasium and went into the boys locker room. Inside the locker room, he shot and killed 14-year-old freshman Emilio Hoffman. Police said there was no connection between the two students.
Friends of Padgett said he did not appear angry when he boarded the school bus on Tuesday but questioned why he was carrying a guitar case and duffel bag.
“A few of our friends asked what was in the bag. He said it was a stand for his uniforms and said he had sports gear,” said Jose Garcia, who grew up with Padgett.
Reynolds High School teacher Todd Rispler encountered the two students and was grazed in the hip by a bullet as he was fleeing. Rispler was able to make his way, despite his injury, to the office to initiate the school lock down procedure.
“I cannot emphasize enough the role Mr. Rispler played,” said Anderson.
Wearing a non-ballistic vest used for carrying ammunition and a multi-sport helmet, Padgett moved down the hallway where he encountered and exchanged gunfire with Troutdale Police officers, who were closing in on him from two separate hallways.
Padgett moved into a separate, smaller bathroom where he took his own life. In addition to the AR-15 and a large knife, Padgett carried a semi-automatic handgun that he did not use. All weapons were obtained from his family home — Anderson said the weapons were secured, but Padgett was able to beat the security measures and access them.
Anderson said police have not discussed a motive at this point. The investigation continues.
Ideal response from students, police, parents
Police said the response from school staff, police and students prevented “many, many” deaths, given the amount of ammunition Padgett carried. Troutdale Mayor Doug Daoust said Reynolds High had participated in an active shooter drill in the weeks leading up to June 10.
“The early notification and the initial law enforcement response were critical,” Anderson said.
“Every one of the teachers and students in that school did the exact right thing in a very difficult situation.” The response from parents who waited hours to learn whether their children were safe, was also exceptional, he said.
Reynolds School District Superintendent Linda Florence thanked staff and students for implementing the lock down in a matter of seconds, in addition to half a dozen law enforcement agencies.
“The staff were great role models for our students,” she said. “I want especially to thank our police.”
“I have no doubt in my mind that their rapid action saved multiple lives.”
A school in mourning
Students mourned the loss of their peer, Emilio Hoffman, with an outpouring on social media Tuesday. Wednesday, some Reynolds High School students wore green to remember the freshman soccer player. As of noon Wednesday, the hashtag #ripemilio had more than 400 posts on Instagram.
Hoffman’s parents met with police Tuesday, said Anderson. He said his parents are “devastated by the news,” calling him a “great kid” who was “loved by all.”
“This is an extreme event that is going to take weeks for closure,” said Linda Florence.
Students are still in shock about the event that played out at their school on Tuesday.
“I can’t ever feel safe in school ever again,” said Janette Medina. “I just still feel like crying, and I think I’m going to go to therapy for a while.”
Those who knew Hoffman remembered him fondly.
“I don’t know the shooter, but I know the victim. I’ve known him two years I think he was just a good person. He was never mean to anyone, always nice and stuff,” said Mark Kovalchuk.
At a vigil Tuesday night, attended by thousands, including Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber, students lit candles to remember their classmate, teammate and friend.
The Portland Timbers Army also honored Hoffman during the Timbers game Wednesday evening at Providence Park.
Hoffman’s family released a statement on Wednesday highlighting his love of sports and ability to make anyone laugh in addition to expressing their thanks for support from the community.
Mental health services are available to students through several avenues, including a pop up mental health resource center at Mt. Hood Community College gymnasium, which is staffed by counselors from Multnomah County, FBI Victim’s Services, and Trauma Intervention Program (TIP) and the Reynolds School District
The Multnomah County Mental Health Crisis line is also available at (503) 988-4888.
The Reynolds High School graduation will go on as planned on Thursday, June 12, district officials announced.
Officials announced the graduation ceremony for the Reynolds Learning Academy is now re-scheduled for 7 p.m. on June 26 at the Melody Ballroom
Tuesday, June 17 there will be a vigil. All are welcome.
All final exams at the high school have been cancelled. Students may return to Reynolds High School on Friday between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. to retrieve their belongings left inside the school.