Teacher disarmed school shooter, hugged her until help came

Full Screen
1 / 3

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

A police officer walks out of Rigby Middle School following a shooting there earlier Thursday, May 6, 2021, in Rigby, Idaho. Authorities said that two students and a custodian were injured, and a female student has been taken into custody. (AP Photo/Natalie Behring)

RIGBY, Idaho – When a student opened fire at an Idaho middle school, teacher Krista Gneiting directed children to safety, rushed to help a wounded victim and then calmly disarmed the sixth-grade shooter, hugging and consoling the girl until police arrived.

Parents credited the math teacher's display of compassion with saving lives. While two students and the school custodian were shot May 6, all three survived, and the gunfire was over within minutes. Gneiting's family says bravery and empathy are just part of who she is.

In an interview with ABC News that aired Wednesday, Gneiting said she was preparing her Rigby Middle School students for their final exams when she heard the first gunshot down the hall. She looked outside her classroom and saw the custodian lying on the floor. She 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 said in the interview shown on “ Good Morning America.”

Police said a sixth-grade girl brought the handgun in her backpack and shot two people inside the school and one outside. All three were wounded in their limbs and released from the hospital within a few days.

Gneiting said she was trying to help one of the students who had been shot when she saw the girl holding the gun. She told the wounded student to stay still and approached the sixth-grader.

“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.”

She asked the girl, “Are you the shooter?" and then walked closer, putting her hand on the child's arm and sliding it down to the gun.