Teacher Disarms Sixth-Grade School Shooter, Hugs Her Until Police Arrive

A teacher in Idaho has spoken about how she managed to disarm a sixth-grade girl who had opened fire at her school and hugged her until the police arrived.

Krista Gneiting, who teaches math at Rigby Middle School, around 15 miles northeast of Idaho Falls, said she had heard gunfire down the hall from the classroom where she was preparing students for exams at around 9 a.m. on May 6.

Gneiting looked outside her classroom and saw the school janitor lying on the floor. After shutting the door, she told ABC News she had instructed her students: "You're going to run hard, you're not going to look back and now is the time to get up and go."

HERO TEACHER: In an @ABC News exclusive, Idaho math teacher, Krista Gneiting, is opening up for the first time about how she disarmed a sixth grade girl after she opened fire at Rigby Middle School earlier this month. @DavidMuir reports. https://t.co/3cxww7oZlR pic.twitter.com/EK0JtyeZzB

— World News Tonight (@ABCWorldNews) May 20, 2021

As she helped one of the student victims, she saw a girl holding a gun and had to think quickly.

"It was a little girl and my brain couldn't quite grasp that," she told Good Morning America. "I just knew when I saw that gun, I had to get the gun."

She said she asked the girl if she was the shooter and walked up to her, putting her hand over her hand. "I just slowly pulled the gun out of her hand and she allowed me to," Gneiting said.

"She didn't give it to me but she didn't fight," the teacher added. Once she had the firearm, Gneiting "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."

“It was a little girl, and my brain couldn’t quite grasp that,” teacher Krista Gneiting said. “I just knew when I saw that gun, I had to get the gun.” https://t.co/0yPba1tval

— Cleveland 19 News (@cleveland19news) May 20, 2021

She said the girl had started talking to her and, during their conversation, had managed to calm down. "I just kept hugging her and loving her and trying to let her know that we're going to get through this together," she said.

When the police arrived, the teacher explained to the child that she would have to be handcuffed. The officer who did this "was very gentle and very kind," Gneiting said.

Two students and an adult suffered injuries to their limbs after the girl discharged the weapon she had taken out of her backpack. All three victims have since been released from hospital.

Parents at the school have hailed Gneiting's compassion, saying her actions saved lives. Michael Lemon, trauma medical director at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, said it was an "absolute blessing" that the three victims had non-life threatening injuries, the East Idaho News reported.

Jefferson County Sheriff's Office told the news outlet on May 6 that the girl had been charged. Juvenile court proceedings in Idaho are sealed, so further details have not been released, according to the Associated Press.

County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Taylor said shortly after the incident the girl could face three counts of attempted murder, East Idaho News reported.

However, Gneiting said she hoped the community could forgive the girl, telling ABC: "She is just barely starting in life and she just needs some help. Everybody makes mistakes."

Newsweek has contacted Jefferson County Sheriff's Office for comment.

Police tape is shown in this stock
Stock image of police tape. A teacher in Idaho has described how she disarmed a sixth-grade student who had opened fire at school. Noam Galai/Getty Images