An Arapahoe High School security guard claims he was the person who confronted Karl Pierson moments before the armed student shot himself inside the school’s library last month. He also believes the incident might have been avoided if administrators had responded to warning signs appropriately.
Cameron Rust is an Arapahoe High football and baseball coach and also a security guard at the school. Thursday he posted a lengthy letter on his wife’s Facebook page titled “Why This Did Not Have to Happen, I Know, I Was There.” The letter was first noticed by KUSA 9 News in Colorado.
Under the heading “Day of shooting,” Rust describes how he and an individual identified as “Christina” heard the shooting start and “immediately” left the security office to investigate. Meanwhile, school administrators, another security guard and the school’s armed resource officer were “eating lunch in a staff lounge with the door shut.”
As Rust and Christina entered the hallway they heard three more shots. Rust says he got on his radio and shouted to SRO James Englert “James (SRO), James, Lock Down, Lock Down!!!!!” At this point he and Christina stopped near the library doors and noticed smoke.
Rather than confront the gunman unarmed, Rust and Christina retreated up the hall. They yelled at teachers who were still unaware what was happening “Run, Run, Lock Down, Lock Down!!!!” At some point while they were issuing these warnings they heard a 5th shot go off.
As they reached a hallway on the opposite end of the building they heard the 6th shot which they later realized was the final one Pierson had used on himself. Though they did not know it at the time, the shooting incident was over. Rust believes his brief confrontation was the turning point. He writes, “By the shooter seeing Christina and I, he paused, abandoned his plan…”
But while Rust seems relieved that the shooting ended when it did, he also believes it could have been avoided entirely. “Claire Davis should not have died on December 13, 2013” he writes. He offers a list of incidents involving shooter Karl Pierson which he claims happened before the day of the shooting, including looking at guns on his laptop during school hours and an angry outburst which led to Pierson being sent home the day before. Rust writes that the security team was so concerned they planned to bring the problem to public attention but never got the chance:
- Security team and teachers bring up concerns from the previous year regarding Karl Pierson.
- Death threat from Karl Pierson directly to Tracy Murphy was made.
- The security team reported to Administration that Karl was looking up guns, on his computer, in the school cafeteria. Administration came back and told the security team it was Karl’s personal computer and he can do what he wants.
- Administration makes comments such as “We will read about that kid (Karl) in the news some-day, it just won’t be at Arapahoe.”
- Karl began drawing symbols on his math tests.
- Karl began using the word “Comrade.”
- Many teachers can refer to many other incidents that were reported to Administration regarding Karl.
- The majority of things reported on Karl were never recorded in his school file.
- Day before the incident Karl was sent home due to anger outburst to another teacher.
- Security team was in the process of going outside the school Administration to bring the above and other issues to the public’s attention, unfortunately that was unable to happen prior to December 13th.
The last portion of the letter details what happened after the day of the shooting. Rust says he refused to hug the school’s principal when she approached him at a meeting and instead walked away. Rust writes “I turned and walked away because of prior knowledge and concerns of being ignored and ‘dismissing’ the security team concerns as being meaningless.”
After this incident, Rust claims he was kept away from investigators on one occasion. He says that to this day he has never been asked by investigators to walk through the incident.
Rust was told he needed to meet with a psychologist to be cleared before returning to work. Then he had a three hour meeting with administrators who raised the moment he walked away from the principal and told him he was not allowed to return to Arapahoe High. Rust remains on administrative leave.
KUSA 9 reached out to the Arapahoe County Sheriff to get his response to Rust’s open letter. They received a written statement which reads in part “From the initial stages of the on-going investigation, Mr. Rust was
the subject of interviews conducted by the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s
Office. Our investigators plan to re-interview him in the future, as
well as numerous other individuals, as part of the on-going
investigation into the tragedies associated with the December 13, 2013