The Washington state high school teacher who tackled an armed student who fired two shots in the air Monday morning said Tuesday that he consoled the 16-year-old and told him, "it’s not the end of the world."
"I had a conversation with him as I was laying on top of him and I was trying to reassure him that, you know, he’s going to get some help," North Thurston High School teacher Brady Olson told reporters a day after the act that has many calling him a hero.
Olson, a father of two, said the other two school officials who were with him that morning would have done the same thing. Olson grabbed the 16-year-old student after the boy fired two shots from a handgun at the school in Lacey, Washington, shortly before 7:30 a.m. local time (10:30 a.m. ET).
The student, a recent transfer from Des Moines, Washington, reportedly told detectives he wanted to provoke a school resource officer into killing him, NBC station KING5 reported.
"I reacted to a situation and I don’t know — being portrayed one way, I think maybe I should be portrayed as the dumb guy who didn't run away," Olson joked.
"It was just one of those things. I saw kids fleeing and it kind of fired me up to do something and I did it. It’s as simple as that," he said.
After Olson and other staffers heard a gunshot, they went to investigate and saw the student walking down the stairs smoking a cigarette. Olson said his first thought was that no smoking is allowed on school grounds — and then he saw what looked like a .357-caliber handgun.
Olson made his way around a pillar, and after the student fired a second shot he grabbed the boy and knocked the weapon away. "My first thought was keep him from firing it again," he said.
Olson said he doesn’t consider himself a hero, and mentioned a friend who is in the military and flies with Special Forces and has been deployed several times to the Middle East. "He is a hero who does it time and time again," Olson said.
Lacey Police Commander Chris Ward called Olson’s actions "heroic." A student brought a sign to North Thurston High School Tuesday that read, "Superheroes DO Exist! Thanks Mr. Olson." And a banner inside the high school Tuesday read, "Thank you Thurston Staff. We love you. Thank you for putting us first."
Olson’s wife, Shara is also an educator who teaches at an elementary school. They have talked about what they’d do if there was a school shooter, and Olson said that, depending on the situation, he’d try to grab a gunman if needed.
"He called me he said, 'I’m okay, I tackled the guy,'" she told reporters Tuesday. "I said a couple words I won’t share here, and then I said, 'Of course you did.'"