NOBLESVILLE, Ind. (AP) — The Indiana science teacher and former college football player who tackled an armed student inside his classroom is being praised for quickly stopping the shooting despite being shot several times.
One of Jason Seaman’s students at Noblesville West Middle School said another student entered the classroom with a gun and started shooting Friday morning. The 29-year-old teacher “immediately ran at him, swatted a gun out of his hand and tackled him to the ground,” said seventh-grader Ethan Stonebraker.
Seaman was shot three times but was in good condition at an Indianapolis hospital following the shooting in nearby Noblesville, according to police. The only other person shot, student Ella Whistler, was in critical but stable condition, according to her family said. Her family released a statement saying they were still trying to process “what happened and why.”
President Donald Trump sent a tweet Saturday thanking Seaman “for his heroic act in saving so many precious young lives. His quick and automatic action is being talked about all over the world!”
Vice President Mike Pence, the former governor of Indiana, also credited the teacher’s “courageous action” for saving lives during the shooting at the suburban Indianapolis school.
“We’re all proud of you Jason and are praying for you and those impacted and recovering from injuries,” Pence said in his own tweet.
Janna Lynas of Noblesville, whose son was coached by Seaman in football, said the teacher is a hero “and everyone here feels it.”
“I believe it was probably very instinctual with him. There was potential for a lot of lives being lost,” Lynas said Saturday.
She said she wasn’t surprised to hear that Seaman intervened to save students. Lynas said Seaman emphasized character last year when he coached her son.
“He made it very clear: Yes, we are going to be playing football but if your grades aren’t good, you’re not going to be playing football,” Lynas said.
Stonebraker, the student witness, said the shooter was acting suspiciously when he walked into the classroom while the class was taking a test. He told ABC News that his teacher threw a basketball at the shooter and ran toward the bullets as screaming students sought cover behind a table.
“If it weren’t for him, more of us would have been injured for sure,” the seventh grader said.
Seaman’s brother, Jeremy Seaman, told The Indianapolis Star that his brother was shot three times and underwent surgery. He said his brother was conscious after the shooting and talked with his wife, telling her he was OK.
He said his brother was a defensive end for Southern Illinois University’s football team and had never been a person to run away.
Investigators say the shooter had asked to be dismissed from the class before returning with two guns. He was arrested “extremely quickly” following the shooting around 9 a.m. Friday, local police Chief Kevin Jowitt said.
Authorities didn’t release the student’s name or say whether he had been in trouble before but indicated he likely acted alone. Police said the student didn’t appear to be injured.
Stonebraker said he knew the suspected gunman. He described him as “a nice kid most of the times” and said he often joked with the classmates.
“It’s just a shock he would do something like that,” Stonebraker said.
Hours after the shooting, law enforcement agents sealed off part of an upscale neighborhood in Noblesville but weren’t commenting on whether the suspect lived there. Sandy McWilliams, a member of a landscaping crew working nearby, said six officers toting assault rifles entered a home.
Students were bused to the Noblesville High School gym, where hundreds of parents and other family members arrived to retrieve them.
Authorities referred to a prompt and heroic response at the school but didn’t confirm accounts of Seaman tackling the student or describe the role of the resource officer who was stationed at the school.
When asked to elaborate on his praise of the response, Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter said: “Wait ’til one day we can tell you that story. You’ll be proud of them, too.”
The attack came a week after a shooting at a high school in Santa Fe, Texas, that killed eight students and two teachers, and months after the high school attack that killed 17 people in Parkland, Florida. The Florida attack inspired students there and across the country to call for more restrictions on access to guns.
Associated Press reporters Ken Kusmer in Indianapolis and Ed White in Detroit contributed to this report.