The 17-year-old senior in a coma after being shot point-blank at a Colorado high school was described by her family as a “woman of principle” and by a fellow student as “amazing and so sweet.”
Claire Esther Davis is a senior at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo.
She was wounded Friday when student gunman Karl Halverson Pierson, 18, entered the school building armed with a shotgun and multiple rounds of ammunition that he purchased legally a week earlier, Sheriff Grayson Robinson said Saturday afternoon. Authorities said the attack lasted just 80 seconds.
"His intent was evil and his evil intent was to harm multiple individuals," the sheriff said.
Upon entering the school, Robinson said, Pierson fired one round down the hallway. He then shot Claire, who just happened to be sitting nearby with a friend as he headed toward the library. Claire suffered severe head trauma and remains in critical condition at Littleton Adventist Hospital, her family said in a statement read by Robinson.
The sheriff emphasized that authorities don't believe Claire and the shooter were friends.
Robinson said Claire was an innocent victim who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
"I believe Claire Davis is an innocent young lady," Robinson said, adding that the motive in the shooting was seen "as some type of retaliation" against a school staff member. Robinson said that Pierson was subject to verbal disciplinary action from the school's debate team coach, but denied reports that he had been kicked off the debate team.
"I choose to never use his name again in public," Robinson said about the shooter.
Claire's family said in a statement Saturday that she is in a coma and is listed in critical but stable condition.
"The first responders got Claire to the right place, at the right time, and the doctors and hospital staff are doing a wonderful job taking care of her," the family said.
"We appreciate your continued good thoughts and prayers, and will provide updates as her condition improves."
Fellow Arapahoe students Saturday held prayer vigils for Claire, who was known for being outgoing, a good athlete who loved horses and a great student, The Denver Post reported, adding that the teen had recently placed second in an equestrian competition and is a member of the Colorado Hunter Jumper Association.
A neighbor told the newspaper Claire was also the best babysitter in the community.
"She took care of our 5-year-old," the man, who did not want to be identified, told the Post. "She was well-loved. I believe she wanted to go into nursing — I know she had already been accepted to a number of colleges already."
Fellow student Avery Griggs, a sophomore, told the newspaper that Claire is "one of the nicest people I've met at Arapahoe."
"She is amazing and so sweet," Avery told the Post.
Friends and well-wishers posted prayers on Twitter, and some students collected money to help pay for her medical expenses.
"I feel like it's going to make us a stronger senior class and school as a whole," Chris Davis, an Arapahoe senior who is not related to Claire but helped organize the fundraising effort, told The Associated Press. He said she has a lot of friends, always seems happy and loves horses.
First published December 15 2013, 4:37 PM