The Richfield shooting victims have not been identified, and police are still searching for a possible motive just hours after two students were shot outside of a Minnesota school on Tuesday.
According to media reports, police in Richfield — a suburban city just south of Minneapolis — responded to calls just before noon about a shooting in progress at South Education Center, an “alternative” public school that serves students from pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade.
Upon arriving, police said they found two students lying on the sidewalk with gunshot wounds on the 7400 block of Penn Avenue South, just around the corner from the school’s front entrance.
Police did not encounter suspects at the scene, and they believe the shooter or shooters fled immediately after the attack, local reports indicate.
Shooting Victims’ Names Not Yet Released
Both victims were rushed to Hennepin County Medical Center by ambulance, where one of them succumbed to his injuries. The status of the other victim as of Tuesday evening is not known.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported hearing emergency dispatchers say that one of the victims had been shot in the chest.
Officials have not released the names of the victims, their ages, or their relationship to one another, if any.
Reports from both local and national media outlets have consistently identified both victims as students at the South Education Center. An early report from the Star-Tribune claimed one victim was a middle school student, though this was later retracted.
Police Search for Suspects, Motive
Officials have named no suspect or suspect sought in connection with the Richfield school shooting as of late Tuesday. Police appear to believe there was more than one shooter, and all local reports citing primary sources say that authorities are searching for multiple suspects.
South Education Center administrators put the school on lockdown shortly after gunfire was heard, and other nearby schools followed suit. The shelter-in-place orders were lifted after investigators searched the area and found no sign of the suspect or suspects.
Authorities have set up a perimeter and were spotted working the scene in a parking lot across the street from the school well into the evening. It’s not immediately clear which agency is leading the investigation, though the FBI, ATF, Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, and several local police departments were said to be assisting in the probe.
Community Reels After Richfield School Shooting
With questions looming and the alleged shooters still at large, state and local officials spoke out Tuesday to urge calm and memorialize the victim who lost a life hours earlier.
“This is a tragic day in the city of Richfield,” said Police Department Chief Jay Henthorne in a brief press conference. “Our … hearts and prayers and thoughts go out to District 287 students, their families and their community.”
Sandra Lewandowski, superintendent of District 287 Schools, issued a written statement online in the shooting’s immediate aftermath.
“There are no words to describe the bravery exhibited by our staff at [South Education Center] and local authorities today,” she wrote. “No one should ever have to respond to a tragedy like this and we commit to supporting staff, students, and family well-being as they recover from this incident.”
Lewandowski added that the district “expressed our deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims.”
According to the Star-Tribune report, South Education Center has had issues with students bringing firearms on campus in its recent past.
Just last September, a student was found to have a gun in a backpack, though the student reportedly did not threaten anybody, and no one was hurt. A district spokesperson told the newspaper at the time that “everything was handled swiftly.”
The outlet also wrote that South Education Center used to have metal detectors at its student entrances, but added they were “phased out” at some point. It was not immediately clear when or why metal detectors were installed or removed from the school.