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|Police escort young people out of the school|
As many as 25 people feared dead
LITTLETON, Colorado (CNN) -- As many as 25 people, including two of three suspects, are believed dead in a Denver-area high school shooting, police said.
Sheriff Jeff Stone later said the number of deaths could be staggering. "There are possibly as many as 25 fatalities," he said. ( 374 K/10 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)
Police also said that bodies of two suspects were found in the library.
"We had three names, we've got two bodies that belong to two of those names up there, and the third name -- that person was not in the school," said Jefferson County Sheriff John Stone.
"It appears to be a suicide mission," Stone said.
Wave after wave of students, led by SWAT teams, fled the high school where at least two armed young men allegedly had begun firing randomly and tossing explosive devices.
The escaping students were told to keep their hands in the air until they were searched by law enforcement officers who feared the gunmen might try to hide among their victims in order to escape.
Police escorted one handcuffed young man away from the school. It was unknown why he was detained.
Several SWAT continued to sweep the large, two-story school, looking for students who may be wounded or trapped inside.
A police spokeswoman said the shooters had holed up in the school and "numerous students" had been trapped in the school cafeteria and other locations.
At least 18 people were taken to hospitals with gunshot wounds. One male victim was in critical condition. A young woman, who suffered nine gunshots to her chest, was reported to be in stable condition after undergoing surgery.
About four hours after the incident began, a young man who appeared to have blood on him propelled himself out of a second story window where officers below attempted to catch him.
Witnesses said the gunmen wore black masks and long trench coats and were heavily armed.
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 coats to school. Another student described the students as "outcasts."
A student who was in the library said one suspect burst into the library and shot people at close range.
"Everyone around me got shot, and I begged him for ten minutes not to shoot me and he just put the gun in my face," said the girl. "He started laughing and saying that it was all because people were mean to him last year."
Three young men in black jackets were taken into custody at a park near the school. They were said to be friends of the shooters. They were questioned and released.
Hundreds of law enforcement officers ringed the building. Armored vehicles were brought in to move SWAT teams into the school and escort students to safety.
Many freed high school students were bused to an elementary school where they were reunited with their relieved parents.
Word of the shooting reached the White House where President Clinton asked the nation to pray for the students and their families and teachers.
|A young man dangles from a window before dropping to law enforcement officers below|
Violence Policy Center
Fact Sheet on Littleton, Colorado School Shooting
Columbine High School
Jefferson County Public Schools
Denver News: Chanel 7
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