'Hero' Teacher Stopped Shooting With Hug

ByABC News via logo
March 16, 2006, 10:00 AM

March 16, 2006— -- A Nevada gym teacher who risked her own life to stop a 14-year-old student who allegedly was shooting his classmates is being called a hero, but Jencie Fagan says any mother would have done the same thing.

"I think anybody else would have done it," Fagan told "Good Morning America." "I look at the students as if they're my own, and I'm sure the teachers at my daughter's high school look at my daughter as if she's their own."

When three gun shots were fired in the halls of Pine Middle School just after 9 a.m. on Tuesday, students scattered, but Fagan walked toward the alleged shooter, 14-year-old James Newman.

"As soon as I came to the doors of the cafeteria from the gym, he discharged the weapon once and I looked at what was going on," Fagan said.

Police say Newman managed to get off three shots, hitting one boy in the upper arm. A girl was hurt when a bullet ricocheted off the floor, hitting her knee. Both students are doing fine.

Fagan persuaded Newman to put down the gun, then held Newman in a "bear hug" until other teachers arrived to help.

"He tossed the gun down, and then I hugged him, and I told him I wouldn't leave him," Fagan said.

"She's a hero in my book," said Reno police Lt. Ron Donnelly. "She displayed uncommon courage and character. That's not a natural reaction, to hear gunfire and walk toward that gunfire."

Newman was booked on suspicion of attempted murder and remains in jail on $150,000. He will be tried as an adult.

Fagan said she was shocked by the shooting.

"We had no clue this might happen," she said. "I knew him [Newman] pretty well. We had had several conversations. He was even talking about joining the track team. He wasn't a problem student, and he wasn't an unhappy kid."

Donnelly said detectives had found drawings and writing in Newman's school locker that suggested he was planning to kill.

"We found stick drawings in his locker and James Newman had labeled one of the figures as himself and he had a gun and there were other figures lying on the ground," Donnelly said. "We also found a note, or a letter to himself, that essentially says 'No one knows who I am now, but they will tomorrow.'"