Karl Pierson's online image and more fallout from Arapahoe High shooting

Update: Last night, the Littleton School District announced that Arapahoe High School, where a Friday shooting left student Claire Davis fighting for her life (see our previous coverage below), will be closed through winter break. We've got the full schedule for students wishing to retrieve their belongings below.

In the meantime, the social media footprint of Karl Pierson, who took his own life after shooting Davis, continues to be erased -- but we've got material from Facebook, including a group to which he belonged, that gives more insight into what he was like.

As we've reported, Pierson, armed with a shotgun and several incendiary devices, entered the school on Friday afternoon and asked for librarian Tracy Murphy, coach of the Arapahoe debate team. Murphy soon learned about Pierson's arrival and left the school -- a smart tactical decision according to Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson, because it had the potential of luring the gunman away from the campus.

Unfortunately, Pierson still managed to injure Davis before turning his gun on himself.

Murphy has issued the following statement:

Arapahoe High School teacher Tracy Murphy has asked that we share his and his family's concern for all of the victims of this tragedy. Littleton Public Schools, the Arapahoe High School community, and the Tracy Murphy family appreciate the support and kindness received over the last few days. Littleton Public Schools asks that you respect Mr. Murphy's privacy and the privacy of all LPS community members who are grieving.
This morning (update), the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office announced that the school had been returned to the Littleton district's control -- meaning it's no longer officially a crime scene. However, district officials have decided to keep it closed through the scheduled start of winter break later this week. The school district has created a schedule for students to pick up belongings left behind when they evacuated the building -- safely, thank goodness -- on Friday.

At last report, Davis was in critical but stable condition -- and also comatose. She was shot in the head.

Pierson's Facebook page is now offline, but while it lingered, we were able to grab a number of images, including his profile pic, which referenced the recent deaths of actor Paul Walker and South Africa's Nelson Mandela while nodding to The Family Guy.... well as more conceptual graphics, like this one.... ...and this one: His contributions have also been stripped from "Smart Sundays," a Facebook group featuring extremely bright people "who want to partake in discussions of politics, philosophy...."

Among the questions posed by Pierson was this one: "I know it's not sunday, but I was wondering to all the neoclassicals and neoliberals, why isn't the market correcting itself? If the invisible hand is so strong, shouldn't it be able to overpower regulations?"

In another exchange, he asked a commenter: "What about Somalia? There's no regulations and they don't even have clean water."

And in response to another post, he wrote, "What regulations are you talking about? One major cause of the 2008 bubble bursting was NINJA loans (No Income No Job or Assets) also referred to subprime mortgages. They are characterized by 'higher interest rates, poor quality collateral, and less favorable terms in order to compensate for higher credit risk.' -- (department of housing and urban development). These loans were largely unregulated and led to credit default swaps. a CDS was an agreement that the buyer will compensate the seller in the event of a loan default. The market reached $62.2 Trn by the end of 2007. On top of that, ratings agecies like Moody's had NO regulations and marked CDS and NINJA loans as AA+ and AAA even though they were sh!t. I guess what I'm saying is more oversight is needed for the economy to really work. The bailouts were an OK idea (I'm still Keynesian), but the republicans asked for less oversight and now there is little chance that winners like AIG will repay it (but losers like Tesla will?). Because of the way the bailouts were set up, banks have no incentive to shape up because they are playing with the house money and hold all the cards. So tell me why regulations that allow assessment of those taking our loans are bad and why we shouldn't enact laws to make it so some companies can't merge creating TBTF. Sidenote: I would recommend the documentary 'Enron: the smartest guys in the room.' And it's m00t."

Clearly, these posts have little in common with the Facebook exchanges of typical high schoolers -- as do his actions on Friday, which have left others with his name eager to disassociate themselves from him. Here's the profile photo of one person also named Karl Pierson:

Here's the Arapahoe High schedule for the week. That's followed by our previous coverage.

Arapahoe High School Schedule

Continue for our previous coverage of the Arapahoe High School shooting, including photos and videos. Update, 7:29 p.m. December 15: As the investigation into Friday's shooting at Arapahoe High School continues (see our previous coverage below), the focus of so many in the Denver area and beyond is on the health of Claire Davis, the student shot by Karl Pierson before the latter took his own life.

A short time ago, Davis's family provided the latest information. At this writing, Claire is stable, but she remains in critical condition, and is currently in a coma. See the complete statement below.

As we've reported, Pierson is said to have arrived at Arapahoe High early on Friday afternoon and asked for Tracy Murphy, the librarian at the school, as well as coach for the debate team. Pierson was a member of the squad, and he and Murphy had what Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson described as a "controversy" earlier this year. However, Pierson does not appear to have been kicked off the team, as had earlier been reported.

In the beginning, reports circulated that a student was shot after confronting Pierson. But yesterday, Robinson debunked that theory, suggesting that Davis had simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The Davis family issued a statement yesterday thanking members of the public for their support and prayers; it's shared on the next page of this post. The latest information was just posted on the Facebook page of Littleton Adventist Hospital, where Davis was transported after the shooting. It reads:

Claire remains in critical condition. She is stable, but is in a coma.

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. We appreciate your continued good thoughts and prayers, and will provide updates as her condition improves.

We again ask that you respect our wishes for privacy, and refrain from contacting us, our extended family, or Claire's friends and schoolmates, as we want to ensure that only accurate information about Claire is shared.

Thank you for your continuing thoughts and prayers for Claire.

As we noted, a commonly used Twitter hashtag since the shooting has been #PrayForClaire. Another is #WarriorStrong, referencing the mascot of Arapahoe High School. Here's one of many images that have appeared of late.

Continue for our previous coverage of the Arapahoe High School shooting, including multiple photos and videos. Update, 8:37 p.m. December 14: The day after the attack at Arapahoe High School (see our previous coverage below), we're learning much more about the dead gunman, Karl Pierson, as well as the struggle for survival of what we now know was the only person he shot, identified as student Claire Davis.

Look below for additional information about this terrible crime, some of which debunks earlier reports, as well as a statement from Claire's family thanking the public for their prayers.

At a press conference today, Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson, who'd announced his plans to retire the day before the shooting took place, noted that Pierson was more heavily armed than had initially been revealed. In addition to a shotgun, he had with him a machete, three Molotov cocktail-like incendiaries and a bandolier of additional ammunition.

Given all of this armament, investigators are working under the theory that he planned to harm more than just the librarian, Tracy Murphy, about whom he asked upon entering the Arapahoe High building at midday on Friday.

Additionally, previous reports had stated that Murphy had kicked Pierson off the debate team, which the librarian coached. But at today's news conference, Robinson revealed that while there had been some "controversy" between them, Pierson was not suspended from school, and neither did it appear he had been booted from the squad.

Likewise, earlier suggestions that the injured student, Davis, had confronted Pierson have now been thoroughly discredited. It appears he simply opened fire on her before she had time to get away. Moreover, a second student was not shot by Pierson, as Robinson had stated yesterday. What originally was thought to have been a minor injury was simply Davis's blood on the other student.

Davis was shot in the head, and she remains in critical condition well over a day after being transported to the hospital.

A vigil was held for Davis earlier this evening, organized in part over Twitter with the use of the hashtag #PrayForClaire. Here's a tweet from 9News featuring a photo of the event:

Below, read the Davis family statement about Claire.

Our beautiful daughter, Claire Davis, has severe head trauma as the result of a gun shot. She needs your continued prayers.

We would like to thank our family, friends, the community and our equestrian community, for their outpouring of love and support, as well as the school for their continued support of the students and teachers. We would also like to express our gratitude to the first responders and the trauma team at Littleton Adventist Hospital for saving our daughter's life and quickly getting her into surgery. Claire is still in critical condition and your prayers are appreciated.

At this time, we ask that you respect our wishes for privacy--for us and the hospital. Thank you for your continued support, love and prayers.

The Davis Family

Here's a larger version of the Claire Davis photo shared by the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office, followed by a 7News video of Robinson's press conference and our previous coverage.

Continue for our previous coverage of the shooting at Arapahoe High School, including photos and videos. Update, 7:48 p.m. December 13: 7News is among the many news outlets identifying the gunman in the Arapahoe High School shootings earlier today as Karl Pierson, seen here. He's said to have targeted the school librarian, Tracy Murphy, who had been his coach on the school's debate team -- and who'd kicked him off the squad.

Among the photos of Pierson that still come up on Google search are numerous ones from the Arapahoe High website. A click shows they've been deleted from that location, but we tracked down a couple.

Here's one of the images:

And here's another: The lingering pages that included Pierson photos feature the aforementioned debate team, and a sentence fragment in one lists Pierson as having finished first in a competition.

There's also a photo of Pierson on a story by the Littleton Gazette. In that image, he's identified as a member of the Arapahoe cross-country team.

Another 7News piece states that Pierson was wearing tactical gear when he entered the school, according to custodian Fabian Llerenas.

In addition, Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson has been able to confirm evidence of two Molotov cocktails at the school. One went off inside while the other one was subsequently rendered safe.

Additionally, authorities have cordoned off a home in Highlands Ranch -- presumably Pierson's -- as part of their investigation into today's shooting. Look below to see the 7News video on that development. It's followed by our previous coverage.

Continue for our previous coverage of the Arapahoe High School shootings. Update, 3:38 p.m.: Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson, joined by Governor John Hickenlooper and Littleton School District Superintendent Scott Murphy, has just concluded a news conference offering more details about the shooting today at Arapahoe High School.

Among the revelations: The student who was shot is female -- and it appears she did not confront the suspect before he opened fire. Also, a device originally described as a Molotov cocktail was found in the school. Here are the latest details.

At 12:33 p.m. today, Robinson said, a lone gunman entered the school on the west side of the building. There, he asked students who were present for the location of a specific teacher -- and asked for the teacher by name. He was armed with a shotgun that he made no effort to conceal.

Word quickly reached the teacher about the student for him, and the fact that he was armed. At that point, the teacher exited the school immediately, which Robinson called "the most important tactical decision that he could have made. He left the school in an effort to encourage the student to also exit the school."

Robinson added that one student, later referred to as "she," was shot by the suspect. The student was initially thought to have confronted the gunman, but Robinson believes that report was inaccurate, and that the student just happened to be unfortunate enough to have been in the vicinity.

The injured student was transported immediately by Littleton Fire & Rescue, Robinson went on. He said she was in serious condition and undergoing surgery.

A second individual was also shot, but Robinson described that wound as "very minor."

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation will assist the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office, Robinson said, "to process the crime scene, collect evidence and do the work to come to a final conclusion of why and how this happened." In addition, he said law-enforcement assets are being deployed "across the south metro area, talking to people who know the suspect or have some association with him."

In Robinson's words, the school was evacuated "methodically and very deliberately." Initially, students were sent to Shepherd of the Hills Church, which is very near the school, but the facility was quickly overwhelmed. At that point, a second site -- Euclid MIddle School -- was designated for additional evacuees. Also, Robinson noted that a "crisis intervention team available for staff and students of Arapahoe High School" was being assembled, and it would be available as long as needed.

A moment later, Superintendent Murphy made a few brief remarks before Governor Hickenlooper stepped forward. Hickenlooper reiterated the previously issued statement included below in its entirety, but he also noted the irony that Robinson had just announced his retirement in the context of praising the authorities for their efforts.

In a question-and-answer session with reporters that followed Hickenlooper's comments, Robinson noted that a "device" had been found in the school. Originally, this item had been described as a Molotov cocktail, but that had not been confirmed by the bomb squad at the time of the press conference, Robinson said.

In answering another query, Robinson said that the student made it "quite a ways" into the school; his body was found in a classroom, where it appeared he had fatally shot himself. In contrast, no law enforcement weapons were discharged during the incident -- and there is no indication at this point that the incident's timing, coming one day before the first anniversary of the tragedy at Sandy Hook in Newtown, Connecticut, was a factor in what happened at Arapahoe High.

Thus far, Robinson said, it appears that "the shooter was the lone actor in this tragic event," but that can't be stated definitively until the investigation concludes. Law enforcement will remain at the scene throughout the rest of the day and evening, with the intersection nearest the school likely to remain closed until after 10 p.m.

In the meantime, Robinson lamented "these tragic episodes where people feel they have to even up the score with a weapon."

Continue for our previous coverage of the Arapahoe High School shooting, including photos and video. Update, 2:49 p.m.: Governor John Hickenlooper has issued a statement about the Arapahoe High shooting. It reads: "This is an unspeakable horror and something no child, no family should have to endure. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Arapahoe High School community and those affected by this senseless act of violence. We thank law enforcement and first responders for their swift work. All of Colorado is with you."

Look below to see CBS4 screen captures for the current scene, followed by our previous coverage.

Continue for more photos from the scene of the Arapahoe High School shooting, as well as our previous coverage. Continue for our previous coverage of the shooting at Arapahoe High School. Update, 2:01 p.m.: Moments ago, Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson announced that the presumed shooter at Arapahoe High School is dead, apparently from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. In addition, one student is said to be in serious condition after having been shot; a second student has minor wounds. Hundreds of students have been safely evacuated from the school. Parents are gathering at nearby Shepherd of the Hills Church, 7691 South University Boulevard, where they are being reunited with their children. According to Sheriff Robinson, the shooter was a student at Arapahoe County High School. He's said to have been armed with a shotgun and entered the school in search of a specific teacher.

The teacher is said to have exited the school after being informed of the situation. A second student confronted the gunman and was shot, Robinson revealed. Shortly thereafter, law enforcement officers swept the school and discovered the body of the suspected shooter. He appears to have taken his own life.

According to Robinson, investigators are currently trying to determine if the shooter acted alone or in concert with others. However, the ACSO has no current information about the involvement of additional individuals, and neither had there been any previous threats to the school received over the course of recent days.

Littleton Public Schools, Aurora Public Schools and Elizabeth Schools were placed on lockdown after news of the shooting broke, 7News reports, while Cherry Creek Schools locked outer doors as a precautionary measure and Douglas County Schools instituted a similar lockout procedure.

Continue for our previous coverage of today's shooting at Arapahoe High School, including multiple photos and tweets. Original post, 1:23 p.m.: Moments ago, dozens of tweets began popping up on Twitter about a shooting at Arapahoe High School. Early reports -- and keep in mind the preliminary nature of what we're hearing -- is that two people have been injured. Arapahoe is part of the Littleton school district, which has reportedly locked down all schools as a result of the incident. And as you no doubt know from national news coverage, tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of the tragic killings at Sandy Hook in Newtown, Connecticut. Here are some sample tweets from the past few minutes.

This link offers live feeds to Arapahoe County emergency responders and more.

More information as it becomes available.

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

More from our News archive circa December 2012: "Columbine to Newtown: A tragic list of school shootings since 1999."

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts