Middle school math teacher Krista Gneiting became a hero in her small town in Idaho when she disarmed and hugged a school shooter until authorities could arrive on the scene.
Gneiting recounted her story in an interview on ABC News that aired on Good Morning America.
You can watch the segment here:
Gneiting was preparing her students at Rigby Middle School for their final exams when gun shots were heard throughout the school. She looked out into the hallway and saw the janitor on the floor.
Then she instructed her students to exit the building and run to the high school:
"So I just told my students, 'We are going to leave, we're going to run to the high school, you're going to run hard, you're not going to look back and now is the time to get up and go.'
Gneiting explained what happened when she saw the shooter, a sixth grade girl:
"It was a little girl and my brain couldn't quite grasp that."
"I looked at her and I just quietly said, 'Are you the shooter?' and she just watched me."
"And I just walked up to her and I put my hand over her hand and I just slowly pulled the gun out of her hand."
"She allowed me to. She didn't fight, she didn't give it to me but she didn't fight."
"And then after I got the gun I just pulled her into a hug because I thought, 'This little girl has a mom somewhere that doesn't realize she's having a breakdown and she's hurting people.'"
Gneiting called 9-1-1 and waited with the girl for the police to arrive.
During that time, she expressed compassion, empathy and courage.
"After a while, the girl started talking to me and I could tell she was very unhappy."
"I just kept hugging her and loving her and trying to let her know that we're going to get through this together."
"I do believe that my being there helped her because she calmed down."
In a press conference held by the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, they explained two students and the janitor were the only ones injured during the shooting, with wounds in extremities that were non-life threatening.
The girl has not be released and an investigation is underway.
She resides in Idle Falls, Idaho. The parties involved in the investigation are the Idaho State Police, Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, Bonneville Sheriff's Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Idle Falls Police Department, Rigby Police Department, Rexburg Police Department, and Madison County Sheriff's Office.
Gneiting has received an outpouring of support for her ability to deescalate the situation, saving lives and preventing further injury.
@AP @POTUS @JoeBiden @VP @KamalaHarris Is there a national citizenship medal that can be awarded to this amazing wo… https://t.co/XvlciOSnLT— Kilted's Adventures (@Kilted's Adventures) 1621457640.0
@AP Amazing bravery and compassion #teacher— Avogadro - call me, you know the number (@Avogadro - call me, you know the number) 1621487885.0
@AP Teacher of the year!? might not be good enough. Person of the Year.?— BlueLeader2020 (@BlueLeader2020) 1621457031.0
@AP Be human first. Simple. Great response by this teacher to remember this— AGos (@AGos) 1621457281.0
Though, many are asking where a sixth grader was able to get a gun, commenting on the U.S. issues with gun violence.
Others asked why a teacher could deescalate a violent situation when many police have chosen excessive or deadly force to deal with unarmed people of color.
@AP 2 takes: -how on earth did an 11 year old get a gun. America baby -huh. it is possible to deescalate a situatio… https://t.co/ISqC41hu7S— Cashier at McDagoth’s Balmora branch (@Cashier at McDagoth’s Balmora branch) 1621456715.0
@Slashscreen @AP Bingo. If a teacher can disarm an ACTIVE shooter without violence, why can’t the police?!— Megara 💜💛 (she/they) (@Megara 💜💛 (she/they)) 1621456829.0
@AP and the teacher did all of that without the need for a firearm or any other "Less-that-lethal" weapon ? Cops could learn a thing or 2.— 🔥Rift Raving Rogue🔥 (@🔥Rift Raving Rogue🔥) 1621456749.0
@AP And yet a trained police officer could come up with no other options other than shooting 16 year old… https://t.co/cnlWC93cb1— Sigh... (@Sigh...) 1621457090.0
@AP Where did she get the gun? Start charging the parents alongside the kids if they're not going to secure the weapons they buy.— Reformedcrush (@Reformedcrush) 1621457095.0
@AP Only in a society awash with guns and lax storage laws could this incident somehow be spun as a good news story… https://t.co/v571d4IANn— Avidreader (@Avidreader) 1621457563.0
@AP My wife is a teacher and I text her frequently through out each and everyday, with the only intention of making… https://t.co/Agi8ErnI8M— LR7 (@LR7) 1621457034.0
@AP Then it happens again and again and again and again. It's not comparable to other countries daily lives ( way h… https://t.co/fbYMDlVH3F— LR7 (@LR7) 1621457154.0
In 2021 alone, there have already been seven school shootings. Education Weekly reports Covid forcing students and teachers to remote learning decreased the number of shootings in 2020.
Krista Gneiting hoped the community could forgive the girl for her actions.
"She's just barely starting in life and she just needs some help."
"Everybody makes mistakes. I think we need to make sure we get her help and get her back into where she loves herself so that she can function in society."
Though Gneiting showed the girl compassion, she may not receive that from the criminal justice system.
Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Taylor told reporters she could be charged with three counts of attempted murder, but those charges remain sealed with the juvenile court system.