SWAT teams trying to rescue students from Colorado school
April 20, 1999
LITTLETON, Colorado (CNN) -- Several hundred law enforcement officers have converged on a high school in suburban Denver where at least two masked gunmen wearing black trench coats allegedly opened fire shortly before noon Tuesday, wounding at least 18 students.
One bloodied person hung out a window signaling for help. SWAT teams ran up and pulled him from the building.
Four SWAT teams are conducting sweeps through the school to rescue any students trapped inside the two-story building. One of the officers reported seeing wounded victims lying inside the school.
Authorities fear other students or teachers may be caught in a hostage situation, with the suspects still inside the school.
More than two hours after the incident began, a group of about 20 students fled the building through a window after being rescued by a SWAT team.
Armored vehicles and fire trucks are being used to move students away from the school and to move law enforcement officers closer to the building.
Local hospitals said they have received at least 15 wounded students. One young man is reportedly in critical condition and undergoing surgery. Another young woman was in serious condition after being shot multiple times.
When deputies arrived at the scene they reported hearing explosions, and bomb squads were called in. One deputy reported exchanging gunfire with one gunman.
Students who escaped reported seeing the two gunmen firing randomly and tossing explosive devices. Witnesses described hearing bullets ricocheting off lockers as they fled the area.
A number of students used phones to call out and report where they are hiding inside the building.
One student identified as James, who called a television station on his cell phone from inside the school said he had heard more shooting around 1 p.m. MDT (3 p.m. EDT), about two hours after the incident began.
He described the gunmen as fellow students who were wearing black hats, black masks and black trench coats.
Authorities detained three young men dressed in black jackets near the school who were believed to be friends of the gunmen. The three were held at gunpoint, handcuffed and taken away for questioning. They were later released.
A student who identified himself as Evan said the two alleged gunmen were students who are members of a "trench coat mafia," a group of about eight students who always wore black trench coats to school. Another student described the students as "outcasts."
A student, Braden Pasusich, said he saw two students in black trench coats with weapons. Other students said the weapons included shotguns, automatic weapons and pipe bombs.
"They were just shooting. They didn't care who they shot at," said a student named Janine. "They just kept shooting. Then they threw a grenade."
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