Teacher rushes gunman and saves lives in Colorado

A fearless teacher wrestled an allegedly deranged gunman to the ground in Colorado Tuesday, likely saving the lives of  students at a middle school only a few miles from Columbine High School, the site of one of the nation’s worst school shootings.

Dr. David Benke is escorted by Jefferson County police officers to a patrol car in front of Deer Creek Middle School after a shooting in Littleton, Colo., Feb. 23, 2010. (AP Photo/The Denver Post, Joe Amon)

Dr. David Benke is escorted by Jefferson County police officers to a patrol car in front of Deer Creek Middle School after a shooting in Littleton, Colo., Feb. 23, 2010. (AP Photo/The Denver Post, Joe Amon)

Math teacher David Benke, 57, charged the man with the rifle and wrestled him to the ground. Others then helped him subdue the man.

According to the Denver Post:

The scene unfolded Tuesday afternoon with shocking familiarity — a shooting outside a Jefferson County school, wounded students, heroic teachers, frantic parents.

When it was over, a man with a history of mental problems was in jail, accused of opening fire with a hunting rifle; two eighth-graders were hospitalized — one in critical condition; and one person after another realized it could have been so much worse.

The bizarre burst of gunfire that erupted just after 3 p.m. at Deer Creek Middle School, 9201 W. Columbine Drive, ended when David Benke, a 57-year-old math teacher, rushed the shooter, wrestled him to the ground and held on as others helped him subdue the man.

“I haven’t cried in 20 years, but I cried like a baby and thanked Jesus,” said Bob Wilson, who pulled to the side of the road to gather himself after his daughter, Elizabeth, called to tell him what happened. “This day could have been so much worse”

The two injured teenagers were identified as Matt Thieu and Reagan Weber.

Matt, initially treated at Littleton Adventist Hospital, was later transferred to Children’s Hospital, where a spokesperson declined to discuss his condition today. Reagan was treated at the Littleton hospital and released a few hours later.

Jefferson County authorities identified the alleged gunman as Bruco Strong Eagle Eastwood, 32. He was held on two counts of attempted murder, said Jacki Kelley, spokeswoman for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

His father, Bruco War Eagle Eastwood, said his son heard voices and struggled financially.

“I don’t know why he did this, but he’s always had problems. I don’t know why, though,” the elder Eastwood said. “He’s different, just different.”

He also has an arrest record dating back to 1996 — including three incidents in which he was accused of threatening someone with a weapon.

The elder Eastwood said the gun, a bolt-action .30-06, was his, though he was not sure when his son took it.

I hope that there is good news today on the condition of Matt Thieu, who is reportedly still critical. I know that parents are grateful to Dr. Benke, who was willing to do what many of us would not have been able to — run toward a lunatic with a gun rather than away from him.

24 comments Add your comment

Joy in Teaching

February 24th, 2010
1:21 pm

The students of that school no longer have athletes to look up to as heroes: they have one in their midst in Dr. Benke. What a shining example he has given them in courage and grace under fire.

first responder

February 24th, 2010
1:28 pm

here is a perfect example that teachers must be trained as first responders at schools. no one can ever tell how long it may take police to arrive at the scene. This teacher acted along with others at the scene, others in the past have acted also (Pearl, MS) that saved lives. We know this will happen again, give teachers the tools to protect students. What to allow, I dont know but the discussion should start.

Larry M

February 24th, 2010
1:36 pm

Yet another example of why those teachers who wish to do so (and are properly trained/permitted to do so) should be able to carry concealed weapons at school. How many lives might have been saved at Columbine… Virginia Tech… Littleton… we could list dozens more, if a professor/teacher (not to mention college students) who has a concealed weapons permit had their weapon on their person?

This guy is a hero, pure and simple. But it would have been much easier – and safer for him – had he been able to carry and shoot this dirtbag in the head.

Dave

February 24th, 2010
2:37 pm

Right On Larry

Free Market Educator

February 24th, 2010
2:37 pm

This teacher did the right thing. He protected those entrusted to his care and deserves recognition. Only one teacher acted in a like manner during the Columbine massacre. All the other adults, including police/swat teams let Kleebold go unchallenged and pick off helpless students at will. Perhaps this teacher remembered that and decided things would be different this time. Thank God.

sah

February 24th, 2010
2:47 pm

@larry, what you have just suggested is the actual cause of the problem, not a solution. Until there is adequate gun control, this type of incident will likely continue to happen.

Nate

February 24th, 2010
2:52 pm

Yeah cause, you know, there’s no WAY a kid could get ahold of a gun in school and start shooting, with all the teachers packing everyday. Or a disgruntled teacher, flying off the handle when they get fired and remembering they have a nice Glock in their desk drawer.
If you bring way more guns into schools, way more shootings will happen.

However, I would say every school should probably have at least 1 or 2 armed security, REAL security that can act and shoot, not these $10/hr. mall kind.

amazing

February 24th, 2010
3:08 pm

It is just amazing how people on both sides of the gun control issue would use every instace as an evidence to support their cause. Larry M is a complete wacko to use this event to support for more gun in schools. I think the fact this math teacher tackled the guy and kept him on the ground kept the tragedy to be even worse. Unless you are a professionally trained soldier/guard, how likely is it that the shot you fire will indeed hit the offender and incapacitate him/her? It is far more likely that the shot will miss (and may hit a by-stander), or the offender may be injured but not badly enough to fire back. You don’t want to have a gun battle while kids are standing in the cross fire.

Now, having a stricter gun control may or may not have prevented this incidence, either

DeKalb Conservative

February 24th, 2010
3:55 pm

@ Amazing

You make a good point about your view on Larry M.

However your point would fall apart if the outcome was different and shots were fired.

Renea

February 24th, 2010
4:29 pm

@ Amazing.

saying that :
“”"”I think the fact this math teacher tackled the guy and kept him on the ground kept the tragedy to be even worse. Unless you are a professionally trained soldier/guard, how likely is it that the shot you fire will indeed hit the offender and incapacitate him/her? It is far more likely that the shot will miss (and may hit a by-stander), or the offender may be injured but not badly enough to fire back. You don’t want to have a gun battle while kids are standing in the cross fire.”"”"

is COMPLETELY wrong, and makes no sense. Mr. Benke is a damn brave guy for doing what he did, he was willing to tackle a gunman to save other people from getting hurt, even if it resulted in himself getting hurt. Thats a great thing to do, not everyone has the guts to do what he did. So are you saying it would have been better to let the guy keep shooting, possibly killing kids, then to have someone tackle him and stop the shots? And it doesnt take a “professionally trained soldier or a guard” to stop someone with a gun .

Amazing

February 24th, 2010
4:32 pm

DK conservative,

The point is that no one particular outcome is certain, and using this incident to argue for/against a concealed weapon is disingenuous. *I* am suggesting that there is more likelihood of a worse outcome than what this math teacher did without a gun. Of course it was a sheer conincidence that this teacher was in a close enough proximity to rush to the guy and tackle him. So, we can’t argue that not having a gun produced a better result, either.

Donald Hyatt

February 24th, 2010
4:41 pm

It is great to hear about a teacher who does good. The media is quick to jump on teachers when they do bad. Most teachers are trying to do the right thing. Most of the time we hear about a few who do bad.

Not too Obvious

February 24th, 2010
5:09 pm

I was at Virginia Tech during the tragedy in 2007 where 32 people were shot and remember the heroes who acted selflessly to save students from Cho, and afterwards to save lives in the aftermath. It was clear then and is so clear here that heroes like Dr. Benke are made in doing the right thing even when in the midst of grave risks. Educators dedicate their lives to investing in our young people so that they can be successful citizens – a worthy accomplishment that warrants title of a hero. But faced with this situation, Dr. Benke put himself in harms way and proved further that he is a Hero in the same sense as our police officers and fire fighters! I for one am very grateful for his being a blessing to our country and will tell my students of such a hero. Thank you Dr. Benke and God Bless You!

Kit

February 24th, 2010
5:45 pm

Thank you. THANK you. THANK YOU!

Tony

February 24th, 2010
5:50 pm

This is an example of a fine man. Thank you, Dr. Benke, for putting your students above yourself. How do heroics like this figure into performance pay? We have many educators who put their students above themselves everyday. These things can not be measured by tests.

ScienceTeacher671

February 24th, 2010
5:56 pm

This moves me to tears. I’m sure that most if not all of us hope that if we were in a similar circumstance we would be equally as brave and selfless, but also hope we will never find out.

Bruco Strong Eagle Eastwood - Nardu

February 24th, 2010
7:11 pm

[...] Teacher Rushes Gunman And Saves Lives In Colorado | Get SchooledJefferson County authorities identified the alleged gunman as Bruco Strong Eagle Eastwood, 32. He was held on two counts of attempted murder, said Jacki Kelley, spokeswoman for the… [...]

Bruco Strong Eagle Eastwood

February 24th, 2010
7:26 pm

[...] by the 1954 merger of Nash-Kelvinator Corporation and Hudson Motor Car Company — at the time,Bruco Strong Eagle Eastwood – Bruco Strong Eagle Eastwood. American Motors Corporation (AMC) was an American automobile company [...]

Georgia Teacher

February 24th, 2010
7:32 pm

Armed teachers are not the answer. I am a teacher, with a concealed carry permit and I would never want to carry a weapon at school. It is way too much of a risk.

Besides, the most effective weapons a person can use in a situation like that is a clear head and decisive action.

Bruco Strong Eagle Eastwood | AXI

February 24th, 2010
7:50 pm

[...] Teacher Rushes Gunman And Saves Lives In Colorado | Get SchooledJefferson County authorities identified the alleged gunman as Bruco Strong Eagle Eastwood,… [...]

Hollie Crawford

February 25th, 2010
10:28 am

Mr benke you are a shining example of what true hero really is you saved the lives of every student in that school and when those kids are in your classroom they become your kids you are real father figure to all the kids in your classroom and they will never forget what a true hero you are to them even when time passes they will look back and remember the day that you saved there lives from danger and thank you for doing what you did and i want to thank you for protecting those kids we need more people like you in every school across america i’m proud of you dr benke you will always be a hero to us all.

Larry M

February 25th, 2010
10:58 am

@ sah, Nate, amazing…

How is what I suggest the “cause of the problem”?

What I am suggesting is that teachers who have concealed weapons permits be allowed to carry the weapon on campus. Not that they MUST, but be allowed if they choose to. If you, as a teacher, feel it is “too much of a risk” (how, exactly?) to do so, then don’t. An individual in Georgia who has a concealed permit has been through a background check. They should also have to undergo training – by law, they do not right now, but an employer could require it.

The arguments against this are a complete joke.

Here is a news flash for you people: banning guns on campus has not – and will not – prevent things like this from occurring again and again in the future. This is because – and let me say this slowly because apparently some of you really lack critical thinking skills/logic – a wack job like the Columbine shooters, Va Tech shooter, etc., DOES NOT CARE IF IT IS ILLEGAL TO CARRY A GUN ON CAMPUS. What, exactly, do you think continuing the ban of guns on campus would do to prevent a recurrence of Va Tech or Littleton? Do you think the perpetrator would get out of his car with the gun and then pause and think, “oh wait, guns are illegal on campus… hmm, better not bring it on campus and carry out my plans of destruction and mayhem.”

The only thing the ban prevents is a legally authorized permit holder from defending him/herself and others and maybe preventing the tragedy. Could an innocent bystander get hurt by a stray bullet in a gunfight between the murderer and an armed teacher? Sure. But that risk is completely outweighed by the possibility that the slaughter of unarmed innocents might be prevented or mitigated.

timber64

February 25th, 2010
12:40 pm

Larry M I’m finally glad someone has some common sense. I could’nt have said it better myself. If you ban guns, the only one with guns will be the criminals. They will get the guns if they want them no matter what the law is, hence the name criminals. Therefore the only ones without the guns will be the honest citizens, hence the name law abiding citizens. That is the lesson for the day kids…………….

Blame the teachers for this shooting

February 26th, 2010
8:28 pm

These guy was taught by teachers who failed him…. If he had had a voucher for private school, he would not have acted like a sociopath…