Arapahoe H.S. security guard says warning signs were ignored before shooting

DENVER — An Arapahoe High School security guard is speaking out. He says there were warning signs that could’ve prevented last month’s shooting that killed senior Claire Davis.

Cameron Rust says those warning signs were ignored. He spoke with Channel 2’s Julie Hayden a day after he wrote a post on Facebook detailing some of his concerns.

He says Pierson had made a specific threat to kill one of the teachers at Arapahoe. Even after that ongoing problems continued with the student according to Rust. That included an altercation the day before the shooting.

Rust says that when he raised general concerns about school safety, he was “dragged” into the principal’s office and told don’t ever put anything in writing again.

He is one of two security guards who confronted the gunman, Karl Pierson on December 13th.

“Karl was probably 10 to 15 feet away just kind of pointing the gun at us and kind of giving you the look of ‘come on in, see what happens,” Rust says about encountering the student after the shooting.

While first responders in general were called heroes for their handling of the shooting, the “first” first responder, Rust, says the school has isolated him from the beginning and to this day won’t let him back into the school or at work.

He says he doesn’t know why. He does say he’s on paid administrative leave.

He points out that he was raising concerns weeks before the shooting about the way the school was handling Pierson and the death threat he made against the teacher.

“That he threatened to kill Tracy Murphy … we were also told that Karl’s mother decided to pull him out of school for three days and had reassured us that he was just angry when he said it and that nothing would happen. And then we were just told to keep an eye out for things,” Rust says.

Authorities have said Murphy was the shooter’s target, but the teacher was warned and was able to get out of the building.

A few weeks later he saw Pierson looking at a gun purchasing website on his computer at school. Rust reported what he saw.

“We then got told that it was his personal computer and that he could look up whatever he wanted and there was nothing that we could do,” he says.

Rust says the school had made it clear in general: Don’t write anything down. “We were told to just don’t put things in writing and if you have an issue bring it to your supervisor and they will handle it from there. And then the ultimate decision is above us,” Rust says.

Like other first responders, Rust risked his life for the students that day and he still worries about them today.

“They’re kids. They’re the eight wonders of the world, you know. So, they needed help. They still need help,” he says.

Investigators say they plan to re-interview Cameron Rust. Other than that, neither law enforcement nor the school district are commenting about what he says.

8 comments

  • Cameron

    oh boy…just when the community, school and students are trying to move forward this guy has got to come out looking for his 15 minutes. Yes we all have a right to speak freely, we also have responsibilities to others. Now rather than focusing on moving forward together the school has to face all the turmoil around who is right and wrong and who is on this side and that. Sad. It looks like he could use someone to talk to to help address his feelings and his experience. The media was the wrong someone.

    • Dave

      God bless Mr. Rust…and I’m not even religious. It’s like a broken record. Tragic shooting…thoughts and prayers for family…never saw the signals…blame the gun…candlelight vigil…memorial…t-shirts/bumper stickers…blame the gun manufacturer….craft a law to limit guns….another school shooting. Our schools are welcome mats to evil people. We need to PROTECT our children better and SHOOT BACK FASTER!!! Allowing faculty to concealed-carry (that choose to opt-in) is an immediate and $0 cost solution to help deter shooters and may stop them sooner.

  • Barbara

    Yeah for Cameron Rust. Why do we always want to brush facts leading up to incidents like this under the carpet because it’s too painful to dig deeper and actually discover what could and should have been done to prevent such action so it doesn’t happen again. Just move forward — and watch it happen again. That’s some solution you have!!! Keep talking Cameron, let’s really get to the bottom of this. Sounds like action from the top should have been taken. This kid was obviously salvageable if parents, administrators, and counselors had been doing their jobs instead of ignoring the anger and frustration festering within Karl Pierson. Wouldn’t it have been worth the effort to save two young lives??

    • Cameron

      I do not see where the interview indicates anyone was ignoring this young man. People seemed to be fully aware and keeping an eye on his actions while trying to keep him integrated. The parents seem to have taken some steps by pulling him out of school for several days because he was “angry”. Effort was being put in to “salvage” the young man. Sometimes people take actions in spite of all the efforts being deployed on their behalf. There is not always someone else to blame and not every person wants to be “salvaged”.

  • Barbara

    Maybe you should go back and listen to that interview one more time. Pulling an angry teenager out of school for 3 days so he has ample time to fester and fume and plan his revenge doesn’t sound like he was being “dealt with” in any meaningful way. No one was “keeping an eye” on anything he was doing. His mother and father were living separately. His mother was out of town and I have yet to read anything about the whereabouts of the father. There was no intervention, no counseling, no therapy for “anger management,” and seemingly no one for him to even talk with. Being left home alone was a recipe for disaster. He blew. Big Surprise.

    • Cameron

      I did not say the interventions were effective. I said they existed. Who knows what would have been effective. You assume your ideas would be effective but really your ideas are probably no better than any others and the rate of these incidents occurring would probably not decrease. Oh and as for the person with gun totting teachers. Yea that works. More guns = less shooting. That is straight thinking…

  • Sue Martin

    Arapahoe Administration should be put on leave until there is a thorough investigation!!! Possible trial!

    Very similar to an incident in one of the Counties in the metro area. We were told, do not call the sheriff. We were told ” This was an accident. It was not planned and do not say anything in public about this incident.”

    And by the way, I was so tired of hearing, “Boys will be boys.” Bullying went on daily, reported, nothing doneā€¦..

    Principals and leaders of schools are afraid of parents, to the detriment of the teaching staff, and the trouble parents might cause if the teacher “tells” anything about the kid or suggests a staffing for a possible incident that could put the lives of students in danger.

    You know, teachers get all the work, most of the blame and have no say. Who is going to win if the teacher complains about the principal.
    Teachers are zero on the totem pole of support from the administration, unions, and mostly never win in any dispute about the
    actions of the principals, Vice Principles, etc.

    No wonder teachers and support staff are running away from these thankless, unsupported jobs in low positions in mostly every situation that occurs. It is time to put blame where blame should be.

    Colorado is very low on the national rating scale as a productive place to educate children.

    All principals should be put in the classroom every day as a part of their contract. Many principals are out of touch, control demons and, protective of their reputation to the detriment of the health and welfare of the teaching staff.

    They spend much time going to meetings, writing up the car expenses for these meetings and keeping secret files from the teachers.

    After more than 30 years teaching, I and many other teachers and staff members have left and are still leaving with health situations due to ill treatment by the principal and heavy handed parents over happenings in the school.

    Teachers, support staff, SPEAK UP!

Comments are closed.