Student who tried to stop school shooter lost father 3 months ago

The death of a student, who tried to talk his classmate out of a school shooting at a Washington state high school, comes just three months after his father, a volunteer firefighter, was killed in an accident.

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Still grief stricken, a family relative started a GoFundMe account to ask for help after the  shooting at Freeman High School injured three students and killed their loved one, Sam Strahan. It's the same online campaign the family started for memorial donations when Sam's father, Scott, unexpectedly died on Father's Day. While working on a motor home, he was reportedly crushed.

In Scott's obituary, family members remember him as someone who wanted to make sure his family was happy and living to the fullest. Sam's life is being honored similarly.

"Seeing him grow up to be such a positive and happy spirit to others around him was inspiring," longtime family friend Jennifer Guenther told The Spokesman Review. "Sam was a brother who loved and cared for his older sister and always watched out for his mother."

On Wednesday, Sam, a high school sophomore, approached the shooter, Caleb Sharpe, as his assault-style rifle jammed.

“You know that is going to get you in trouble,” Sam said, according to a Spokane County affidavit.

Sharpe, claiming to be a victim of bullying, brought the rifle in by a duffel bag, but he had also hidden a handgun in his coat pocket. He pulled it out and fired.

“That young man ... gave his life … to save his fellow classmates,” Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said in a news conference Thursday.

The rounds stopped when Sharpe ran out of ammunition. According to the affidavit, the weapons likely came from a gun safe belonging to Sharpe’s parents; he knew the combination.

“The next hero in this is the janitor,” Knezovich said. “He’d thrown his pistol down, and [the janitor] confronted him, and ordered him to the ground and held him there.”

Since the shooting, a number of vigils were held to remember Sam and show solidarity with the family and friends of the victims.

In a statement Thursday, Spokane County Fire District 8 described the Freeman community as a tight-knit family reeling from the tragedy, and it shared how its firefighters were touched in a personal way by the shooting.

“Our firefighters and law enforcement officers … they have kids who go to school here,” Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said.

The fire district remembered Sam and Scott in their statements.

"We are hurting with our community, but we are Freeman Strong," assistant chief Greg Goodfrey wrote.

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