Hero janitor, student and school officer praised by local officials

KREM 2's Jane McCarthy highlights the people that helped in this dire situation. The real heroes of the tragic shooting.

SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash --- Several people put themselves at risk in the Freeman High School shooting, and local officials said those people should be recognized for their bravery.

“We know there were many who showed unbelievable courage in the face of danger,” said Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA).

Despite the tragedy that unfolded inside the school, stories of heroics unfolded too. Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said it started with the young student who was killed.

“And that is the name that needs to go down as a true hero. He was a hero,” said Knezovich.

One student died and three more were wounded in the shooting. Court documents showed the gunman still had a duffle bag filled with ammunition.

The documents show custodian Joe Bowen acted after the shots were fired. He intervened and the suspect dropped the gun to the floor, started to raise his hands above his head and surrendered to the approaching janitor, who was ordering the suspect to lay down on the floor.

“Joe confronted him, ordered him to the ground and then held him there,” said Knezovich.

"Joe did what Joe does every day, and that's that he was here for kids," said Freeman School District Superintendent Randy Russell.

According to school officials, Bowen is a military veteran who did what they expected he would do. He ran towards the threat.

"He knows the kids. He loves the kids and he was one of the very first people that were there. And I have no doubt in my mind that Joe Bowen was a big reason why things weren't worse than they actually turned out," said Russell.

At that point, teacher John Hays saw an assault style rifle on the floor near his classroom. He picked it up and took it to his classroom to secure the rifle.

The school resource deputy was in the nearby middle school and raced into the unknown threat.

“He did what he was trained to do. He ran towards the gunfire, went into that school alone and helped Joe take that suspect into custody,” said Knezovich.

© 2017 KREM-TV


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