Update: After the 1999 Columbine High School attack, law enforcers closely guarded most details, to the frustration of pretty much everyone. In contrast, the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office has been impressively transparent when it comes to the investigation into Friday's shooting at Arapahoe High School, quickly correcting early misinformation and sharing details like the Latin phrase found on the arm of shooter Karl Pierson. Now, the ACSO is clarifying the relationship status between Pierson and shooting victim Claire Davis: acquaintances but not friends.
At about 12:33 p.m. on Friday, as we've reported, Pierson is said to have gained access to Arapahoe High through the school's north entrance.
He wore a backpack and was armed with a .12 gauge pump action shotgun, three Molotov cocktails, a machete in a canvas scabbard and more than 125 rounds of shotgun ammunition -- steel-shot, buckshot and slug -- worn in two bandoliers slung across his chest.
Pierson is thought to have immediately started firing the shotgun as he stepped inside the building, with the second blast striking Davis, who was in the vicinity.
Did Davis and Pierson know each other? That question has lingered despite the apparently random nature of the shooting. Now, the sheriff's office has revealed in a news release that after discussions with Claire's family and friends, it is clear the two of them were "school acquaintances, but were never close friends."
Additionally, the investigation thus far has uncovered no indication that Claire had been specifically targeted by Pierson, or that he knew where she'd be in the school.
Of course, this knowledge won't squelch speculation about Pierson's actions in the shooting. He appears to have planned a large scale attack, given that the aforementioned Latin phrase -- "Alea iacta est," which translates to "The die is cast" -- was accompanied by five room numbers corresponding to spaces in Arapahoe High's library/media center area. Yet the only person he wounded before taking his own life was Davis. Was the sight of a girl he knew terribly hurt by his hand make him suddenly reconsider his scheme and decide to end it all? We'll never know, but it won't stop people from wondering.
In the meantime, Davis remains comatose in critical but stable condition at Littleton Adventist Hospital. As the ACSO points out, "The Davis family continues to request that members of the media respect their privacy during these very difficult times" -- but plenty of friends, family, loved ones and members of the community continue to offer support in any way they can. Yesterday, a prayer service and rally for Davis was held at Cherry Creek High School, normally an Arapahoe High rival, and tomorrow at 7 p.m., Arapahoe alums are staging a fundraiser at the Varsity Inn in Centennial. Here's the blurb from the Facebook event page:
The class of 2002 will be holding a fundraiser for Claire Davis on Friday the 20th from 7 p.m.-close at Varsity Inn. All donations will be sent to the Arapahoe Donation Fund for Claire Davis at First Bank. We know this is a busy time of year and money is tight, so any donation is helpful! If you can't make it you can still donate to her fund at any First Bank location. Please come by if you have a chance and show your Warrior Pride! If you have any questions or would like to help, please send any of us a message! Thank you and stay Warrior Strong!
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More from our News archive: "Karl Pierson's alleged murder plan at Arapahoe High: 'The die has been cast.'"