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Teacher Disarms Sixth-Grade School Shooter, Hugs Her Until Police Arrive

teachers disarms and hugs school shooter
Good Morning America/ABC News

A teacher at an Idaho middle school found herself in the midst of an active shooter situation in which a sixth-grade girl had already shot several people with a pistol. The teacher was able to disarm the girl before she could wound more people (or worse), and then remarkably hugged the girl and comforted her until police arrived.

The scene took place on May 6 at Rigby Middle School in the Idaho town of Rigby, and involved teacher Krista Gneiting, who first directed her students to safety, and then remarkably attended to the shooter.

Gneiting said, in a Good Morning America interview earlier this week, as reported on by the Denver Post, she was preparing her students for final exams when she heard the first gunshot down the hall. She looked outside her classroom, saw the school’s janitor lying on the floor, and then heard two more shots as she closed the door.

“So I just told my students, ‘We are going to leave, we’re going to run to the high school, you’re going to run hard, you’re not going to look back and now is the time to get up and go,'” Gneiting recalled.

A sixth-grade girl had taken a handgun from her backpack and opened fire just before 9 a.m. local time, wounding two students and one adult, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. The girl shot two of the victims in the hallway before moving outside and shooting the third victim, the sheriff’s office said.

While all three recovered from the injuries and were released from the hospital within a few days’ time, Gneiting didn’t know the severity when she came out into the hallway to tend to one of the wounded individuals, and then saw the girl with the gun.

“It was a little girl and my brain couldn’t quite grasp that,” she said. “I just knew when I saw that gun, I had to get the gun.”

Gneiting said she looked at the girl and quietly asked, “Are you the shooter?”

“I just walked up to her and I put my hand over her hand,” she remembered. “I just slowly pulled the gun out of her hand and she allowed me to. She didn’t give it to me but she didn’t fight. And then after I got the gun, I just pulled her into a hug because I thought, this little girl has a mom somewhere that doesn’t realize she’s having a breakdown and she’s hurting people.”

Gneiting called 911 from her cell phone to alert police, but continued to hug her until police arrived on the scene.

“After a while, the girl started talking to me and I could tell she was very unhappy,” Gneiting said. “I just kept hugging her and loving her and trying to let her know that we’re going to get through this together.”

“I do believe that my being there helped her because she calmed down,” she added.

Gneiting was also there for her during the arrest, explaining to the girl that “he needs to put you in handcuffs.”

“She didn’t respond, she just let him,” she said. “He was very gentle and very kind, and he just went ahead and took her and put her in the police car.”

While the girl could be facing three charges of attempted murder, Gneiting believes there’s hope for her, and is advocating for her. As ABC News relayed, she hopes people can “find it in their hearts to forgive the girl and that the girl gets the support she needs.”

“She is just barely starting in life and she just needs some help,” Gneiting said. “Everybody makes mistakes. I think we need to make sure we get her help and get her back into where she loves herself so that she can function in society.”

Written by Phil West