Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said officials haven’t uncovered any past behavior that shed light on why Karl Halverson Pierson, an 18-year-old student, was targeting his debate coach when he opened fire inside Arapahoe High School Friday, shooting one student before killing himself.
“He didn't seem to have mental illness. He had a lot of friends. He was outspoken. There have been a couple stories that he was bullied and that's a recurring theme we see sometimes with these shootings. But again, there's no rhyme or reason,” Hickenlooper said in an interview with CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday.
Hickenlooper said it was his understanding that Pierson had a grudge against the coach. “But you know, high school kids all over this city, all over the country have fallings-out with teachers or coaches all the time and they don't go out and buy a gun and come back and decide they're going to kill a lot of people,” he said.
The governor praised the response by both the local sheriff and a security officer in the school, who followed newly-established protocols and ran toward the shooter. They were joined by police officers from surrounding jurisdictions. “That kind of training is very, very powerful,” he said.
When host Bob Schieffer asked what Colorado could do in the future, Hickenlooper expressed doubt that any gun control legislation could have prevented the shooting.
“We’ve got 24/7 hotlines. We've got mobile crisis centers. We've got 24/7 drop-in centers, really trying to intercept people with mental illness before they can cause damage to themselves or to others. And yet, somehow, this kid didn't exhibit any of those symptoms,” he said.
He also said the two things Coloradans care “deeply” about are Second Amendment rights and making their communities safer. “So things like universal background check, I think they are going to make it safer, but in this specific case, aren't going to make a difference at all,” he said.
Colorado has been the site of several high-profile shootings, including the attack at Columbine High School in 1999 and a shooting rampage at a theater in Aurora, Colo., last year. The shooting at Arapahoe High School also took place on the one-year anniversary of a rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in which 20-year-old Adam Lanza killed 20 students, six adult staff members, his mother, and himself.