Colorado was the scene of yet another school shooting on Friday, and the librarian allegedly targeted by the shooter was a former Craig teacher.
According to police reports, student gunmen, Karl Pierson, 18, came into Arapahoe High School in Littleton with a shotgun demanding one teacher present himself: Tracy Murphy. Pierson then shot a 17-year-old student, Claire Esther Davis, before turning the gun on himself, taking his own life. Davis remains in a coma in critical condition, according to The Denver Post.
Murphy, a librarian at Arapahoe High, had been an integral part of the Craig community in the 1990s. He taught eighth-grade social studies at Craig Middle School from 1990 to 1993, according to records at the Museum of Northwest Colorado.
It came as a shock to Murphy's friends and former colleagues when they discovered the teacher was Pierson's intended target.
“He (Murphy) was a really nice guy. Knowledgeable. He really got along well with kids,” CMS eighth-grade science teacher Norm Yoast said. “It came as a really big surprise that that happened.”
Susan Spencer, registrar at CMS, agreed with Yoast.
“I was shocked, of course,” she said. “He was always a really good guy.”
Murphy was unavailable for comment, but Littleton Public School District released a statement on behalf of the librarian to Denver’s 9News.
“Arapahoe High School teacher Tracy Murphy has asked that we share his and his family's concern for all of the victims of this tragedy. Littleton Public Schools, the Arapahoe High School community, and the Tracy Murphy family appreciate the support and kindness received over the last few days. Littleton Public Schools asks that you respect Mr. Murphy's privacy and the privacy of all LPS community members who are grieving,” the statement read.
Dwight Siverson, a retired computer science teacher from Craig, said Murphy was a stand-up neighbor and dedicated teacher.
“When they moved into town, they bought the house right next door to me. So the years they lived there, we worked together,” he said. “He is an excellent teacher, he really is.”
Students have been reaching out to Siverson to check on Murphy and see how they can offer support to their former teacher.
“All of the kids who I talked to…liked him as a good teacher,” Siverson said.
Cindy Morris, a retired high school teacher, knew Murphy through her husband, David Morris, a retired middle school teacher.
“We became good friends,” she said about Murphy. “He’s a good teacher and a great guy.”
Morris spoke to Murphy recently and said he is trying to grapple with the shooting.
“I think he’s kind of in shock — shook up,” she said.
Contact Erin Fenner at 970-875-1794 or firstname.lastname@example.org.