FRESNO (AP) — Police were searching Saturday for four teenage boys they say shot and injured a teacher who fought back during an attempted robbery at a Fresno California high school.
Steven Guerrero, 30, who teaches athletic training part time at Edison High School in Fresno, was shot in the stomach and leg in a classroom Thursday night.
Guerrero was in fair condition and declining interviews at a Fresno hospital on Friday, according to the newspaper. The hospital said Saturday that he was no longer listed as a patient there.
Deputy Police Chief Pat Farmer said the teens were armed with a handgun and a sawed-off shotgun when they confronted Guerrero in the unlocked classroom and demanded a laptop computer. A custodian also in the room managed to escape.
Guerrero allowed the group to take the computer but then fought back after one of the teens struck him in the head with a 25-pound free weight, Farmer said. The teacher knocked the laptop and the handgun away, but one of the teens got to the weapon first and fired six rounds, two of which hit Guerrero.
“It was human nature at that point, fight or flight, and he chose to fight,” Fresno Unified Superintendent Michael Hanson said Friday. “His life was in danger and he fought back. It was an amazing result given the set of circumstances he was up against.”
Police recovered the laptop and a handgun from the classroom, Farmer said. Authorities don’t think the robbers were current Edison students.
Guerrero had worked as a substitute teacher for the Fresno Unified School District since 2009 before being hired as a part-time teacher this year. He serves on the board of California USA Wrestling, which governs amateur freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling in the state.
“He really works well with the kids and he’s just so soft-spoken,” fellow director Greg Chappel said. “Sometimes you get coaches who are demonstrative, but he’s not that way.”
Edison High administrators notified parents about the shooting by telephone on Friday morning, prompting a flood of worried calls on the last day before winter break. Additional grief counselors and psychologists were sent to the school, Fresno district spokeswoman Susan Bedi said.
Hanson, the superintendent, said the district has taken steps to improve school security in recent years but cannot plan for every possible scenario.
“A teacher closing down his shop at 7 p.m., with another adult in a well-lit room, and folks come out of nowhere armed with guns intent on mayhem,” he said. “It’s pretty difficult in an urban environment to combat that with anything that you would put up.”