Indianapolis Student Calls School to Say He Shot Himself

Shocked school at a loss to explain why popular student shot himself.

Sept. 14, 2011— -- The call that came into the Cathedral High School switchboard at 2:15 p.m. Tuesday was alarming. On the line was a student saying he had a gun and had just shot himself.

The Indianapolis school was placed on lockdown until paramedics could get to the scene and rush the student – a popular junior – to a local hospital.

The student is currently in stable condition and with his parents, but the school's students are in shock and trying to figure why the well-liked student tried to kill himself.

"I can tell you what the police told us that it was a self-inflicted gunshot wound," said Lisa Renze-Rhodes, communications director for Cathedral High School.

The apparent suicide attempt took place behind the school's gymnasium and wrestling facility.

The school is known for its strong Catholic education and Fighting Irish football team.

"Not in 93 years has anything like this happened," said Renze-Rhodes. "We have security cameras, we have a security plan and a protocol in place."

Indianapolis School at a Loss Why Popular Student Shot Himself

That plan was activated Tuesday as students and faculty were told to remain in place for a time while the student was being located. By 3 p.m. an email had gone out to the wider Cathedral High School community including parents advising them about the situation.

The school does not, however, have metal detectors or other security screening that might have detected a gun. And it is still unclear if the student brought the firearm with him that day or had it hidden on campus to use at a certain time.

"We are a Catholic school and we are a family. We take that very seriously. The students organized a prayer service for him …they are hoping to pray him in to a good place," said Renze-Rhodes. More than 250 students attended the vigil at the Student Life Center on campus last night.

Students also took to their computers. On Twitter there has been an outpouring of emotion from students and others posting comments with the hashtag #prayforCathedral.

There have been a rash of suicides in recent months attributed to bullying and some of the tweets suggested the Cathedral High teen was also bullied.

"Stay strong and ignore the people who treat you badly. Get through this and keep your chin held high," read one tweet. "This is the second time bullying has hit close to home around here and it really needs to stop," said another.

But it's not known whether whoever sent those tweets were classmates and school administrators deny that bullying may have been the motivation for the shooting.

"This would be the first I've heard of it. As far as I know that has not been raised to us at any point," said Renze-Rhodes. She pointed out that the shooting victim was a popular junior who was by all accounts well-liked and embraced by the larger student body.

Renze-Rhodes said the motive for the shooting remains unknown.

"I wouldn't begin to tell you what the student was thinking. I'm not a licensed psychiatrist, but he clearly thought he could get help here. He did it here and immediately following, he called the school," she said.

Counselors are currently at Cathedral High School and available to students and parents throughout the day, although not many students have chosen to meet with the counselors according to school administrators.

This has been a difficult year for the Cathedral High School community. Two months ago, the class valedictorian, Jay Ruckelshaus, was paralyzed in a summer diving accident. The senior who turned down Harvard and Yale was due to attend Duke University this month.

Although counseling as a way to process these events has not been that popular with the student body, prayer and Twitter has been. So many students have been tweeting the #prayforCathedral hashtag that it has become a trending topic on Twitter. A girl named SarahBear732 seemed to sum up the sentiments of many with this line "Sometimes all you can do is pray and hope everything will turn out all right."