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Tracy Murphy, debate coach praised for leading Arapahoe High School gunman Karl Pierson outside
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- Tracy Murphy was the Arapahoe High School librarian and also worked as the adviser for the Speech and Debate Team
- He reportedly suspended shooter Karl Pierson from the team days ago
- Pierson, 18, feared the demotion would threaten his plans to attend the Air Force Academy and sought Murphy out with a shotgun on Friday
- Murphy ran from the school which police praised as a wise tactical move
- Murphy was not injured as he dodged one of the shots, but Pierson shot another student who is in critical condition before killing himself
- Witness said Pierson was wearing a mask and a black hoodie
The librarian who was targeted by one of his disgruntled debate team members is now being hailed as a hero after purposefully running out of the school in an effort to draw out the gunman and keep him away from other students.
Tracy Murphy worked as the librarian at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colorado but it was his role as the adult adviser for the speech and debate team that led to him being the target of gunman Karl Pierson's rage.
Mr Murphy allegedly demoted Pierson or kicked him off the team earlier this week.
Pierson's friend and fellow debate team member has said that he was upset about being demoted and his anger resulted in an even more serious suspension from the team.
Proud coach: Tracy Murphy was the school librarian but doubled as the adviser for the speech and debate team (seen huddled around him after a recent win)
‘Karl half-jokingly threatened to kill Mr Murphy, and Mr Murphy got him suspended for saying that,’ Pierson’s friend and teammate Joe Redmond told The New York Daily News.
‘Karl wanted to go to the Air Force Academy and they don’t look positively on suspensions so (Karl) felt like Mr Murphy had ruined his life.’
Sheriff Grayson Robinson clarified earlier reports and confirmed on Friday evening that Pierson had not been suspended from the school and he even attended classes this morning before bringing his shotgun with him while looking for Mr Murphy shortly after 12.30pm.
A recent alum said that he was in the hallway visiting friends when he saw a person 'wearing a mask and a black hoodie reloading a shotgun' before the shooter saw them and took aim.
They ducked and found cover in a nearby classroom where they used the safeguards in place- a magnetic locking strip that closed the classroom from the inside- to protect themselves.
Pierson reportedly asked passersby for Mr Murphy's location with his shotgun in plain view, and the Sheriff said he 'made no attempts to hide' as he headed towards the library.
Once in the library, Pierson reportedly shouted 'Mr Murphy! Mr Murphy!' but never found his target.
The shooter: Karl Pierson, a senior at Arapahoe High School, has been named as the shooter who killed himself and injured one other student who remains in the hospital after suffering a significant gun shot wound
Fellow student Frank Warnoff said that he saw Mr Murphy running out of the school just moments after he had heard that Pierson was armed and searching for him.
Frank said that Mr Murphy was ‘incredibly shocked’ and said: ‘I docked (Pierson) from the speech and debate team and that just shocked him.’
At work: Mr Murphy, seen here in his office, was the target of the shooting and Pierson headed straight for the library looking for him
The decision to flee the scene rather than trying to confront the shooter was a notion preached in one of the many preparedness drills done at the school in case of such an emergency.
'In my opinion, this was the most important tactical decision that was made,' Sheriff Robinson said at an afternoon press conference. 'He took himself away from the school in an effort to get the shooter to go with him.'
Mr Murphy was unharmed in the incident and is currently in police custody.
Pierson ended up taking his own life on Friday and emergency responders found Pierson’s body inside the school, dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Classmates have revealed that Pierson was politically active and spoke about gun laws during class.
‘He had very strong beliefs about gun laws and stuff,’ fellow student Abbey Skoda told The Denver Post hours after the Friday shooting.
The two groups that Pierson belonged to on Facebook suggests that he enjoyed political discourse, as one is for the members of the Speech and Debate club and the other is called Smart Sundays, where participants pose questions for spontaneous virtual conversation.
Pierson’s question to the group was directed towards neoclassicals and neoliberals, asking why the market hadn’t corrected itself in the wake of the recession. He later identified himself as a supporter of Keynesian economic theory.
Taking it all away: Friends said that Mr Murphy had recently suspended Pierson from the debate team and he was upset because he thought that would stop him from getting into the Air Force Academy
In other posts, he touted his support for gay rights and made fun of Republicans but then also wrote on Facebook that he did not believe that President Obama did not deserve a second term in office.
His friends and fellow seniors Carl Schmidt and Brendon Mendelson told The Post that his political views were ‘outside the mainstream’.
Pierson was proud of his participation in the school debate team, even if he didn’t do as well as he had hoped since he posted in June that he was eliminated from the national debate championships after only two days of competition.
When word spread of the shooter’s identity, students seemed surprised that Pierson, who they knew as a happy 18-year-old was the one toting the shotgun.
Single file: The school was evacuated and students were patted down individually before being taken to a staging area where they were interviewed and then reunited with their frightened parents
Horrible: A mother comforts her daughter after the shooting, which came the day before the one-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting
Emergency response: State and local police were joined by SWAT teams on the scene
‘I could see a bit nerdy and geeky but in a sort of charming way,’ Frank Warnoff said to local station KDVR.
‘I could see that he was bullied but he was always very humble and down to earth, always in a good mood and energetic. I just never saw him as this kind of person.’
Others seemed aware of the bullying that Pierson may have gone through but did not feel that it was significant enough to serve as an explanation for the shooting.
‘He was exuberant I guess. A lot of people picked on him, but it didn't seem to bother him,’ classmate Thomas Conrad said of Pierson, who he also classified as a socialist.