TROUTDALE. Ore. — A teacher wounded in Tuesday's school shooting that left two people dead is drawing rave reviews as a hero whose cool head kept the death toll from growing much larger.
Reynolds High School's health and physical education teacher, Todd Rispler, suffered a graze wound on his hip when the shooting began. Freshman Emilio Hoffman, 14, was killed.
Despite his injury, Rispler managed to initiate the school security procedures that likely saved countless lives, Troutdale Police Chief Scott Anderson said. The school was locked down and SWAT teams swept in. Police later found the shooter dead in a bathroom, apparently the victim of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Students were not surprised to see Rispler, a 1982 graduate of the school, step up.
"He's like one of the best teachers in school," said sophomore Edgar Arias, who recalled the terrifying moments in the school gym. "I saw that he had blood on the side of his shirt."
That didn't stop the 50-year-old from doing something police called heroic.
Anderson said the wounded Rispler was able to make it to the administrative offices to start the school lockdown. News of the shooting quickly spread and students hid in their classrooms.
"It was really scary because someone figured out Rispler had been shot, but nobody knew ... if he was … or wasn't OK," sophomore Erica Norton said. "He's honestly one of my favorite teachers."
Students knew Rispler's fate minutes later when he returned to the gym to help them evacuate.
Arias credited Rispler in those tense moments for "his bravery, knowing how to handle things, being calm."
Norton also appreciated Rispler's calming influence.
"He was just being like everybody else, just saying, 'It's OK. We're going to get through this,'" Norton said. "He said, 'Just get on the buses and get home get to your families.' "