Teacher Killed By 12-Year-Old Student Remembered

fromKUNR

The community of Sparks, Nev., came together Wednesday night to remember Michael Landsberry, the teacher who was killed by a 12-year-old student who shot and wounded two others before taking his own life.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Two students are in the hospital after a shooting at a middle school in Nevada. A 12-year-old boy killed a popular teacher and then himself. Last night, people in Sparks, Nevada remembered teacher Michael Landsberry. Will Stone reports from KUNR.

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WILL STONE, BYLINE: Hundreds gathered in front of the middle school last night in soft candlelight. Local faith leaders offered prayers. Behind them, pasted to the school sign, was the familiar emblem of a superhero, Mr. Landsberry's alter ego. Pastor Howard Dotson organized the vigil.

PASTOR HOWARD DOTSON: A man who once said he was Batman is now a true hero of his own. He is gone but never forgotten. May our Batman rest in peace.

STONE: The teacher was known for his love of the character. He'd dress up and students would even refer to him as Batman. On Monday, as the shooter crossed the schoolyard, Landsberry is said to have calmly walked toward him, his hand outstretched, asking for the gun. This act of bravery has made him a hero, but to those who knew him best, like long time friend Tom Gordon, this was no surprise.

TOM GORDON: And all I can think of is, duh. I've known that for 31 years. I'm just sorry this how you found out about it. Yeah, he was like this major anchor for everybody he was with.

STONE: Landsberry was a former Marine who had been in firefights serving overseas. Gordon says he was also a band geek with a sense of humor who spent weeks making a costume for his friend's "Star Wars"-themed wedding.

JERRY MILLER: He had a rough exterior and that's the persona he has, but students and people who knew him knew he was like a pussycat on the inside, a big teddy bear.

STONE: That's Jerry Miller, who coached soccer and taught with Landsberry. Miller says he formed strong relationships with his students and players and earned their respect by pushing them. When Macyn Elquist began his class, she was failing math. By the end of the year, she had an A.

MACYN ELQUIST: We had to get our work in on time, and although we had fun along the way, we still had to do our stuff.

STONE: Tom Gordon says Landsberry was a dedicated friend, husband and father. In his classroom, he struck just the right note.

GORDON: His even keel and he would have things at the right spin. You know, that sign in his room said thou shalt not annoy Mr. L.

STONE: Gordon says Mr. L got his point across, but left you with a smile on your face. For NPR News, I'm Will Stone.

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