Young Shooting Victim Calls Teacher A Hero

By: KKTV 11 News/ CBS 4 Denver Email
By: KKTV 11 News/ CBS 4 Denver Email
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The bond has been set at $1 million for the man who allegedly shot and wounded two young students outside a Littleton middle school Tuesday.

Bruco Strongeagle Eastwood, 32, faces two charges of attempted first degree murder after he allegedly opened fire on a group of students at Deer Creek Middle School as they were being released from school.

The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office says Eastwood came to the school and signed in as a visitor around noon Tuesday. He indicated that he was a previous student at the school in the 90s. Officials say at some point, Eastwood left the school but was never asked to leave. They say some three hours after he first signed in as a visitor, he returned and began shooting.

Matthew Thieu, 14, and Reagan Weber, 13, were hit by those shots fired. Thieu was hit in the torso. He was initially listed as critical but he's continuing to improve. As of Thursday afternoon, he's listed in good condition. Weber was treated for her injuries and released.

The teen victim who was released from the hospital had high praise for the teacher who tackled the gunman. "I think he's a hero, he obviously saved a lot more lives, " Weber said in a brief on-camera interview.

Student Steven Seagraves said he was about 10 feet away when an adult approached students and asked them: "Do you guys go to this school?" When the students said they did, he shot them, Seagraves said.

Other students say they also witnessed the shooting outside the front door of the school. "It was really scary. I kept thinking, I might die right now," one student says.

Bus driver Steve Potter said he was about to pull away from the school with a full bus when he heard a loud bang that sounded like an M-80 firecracker.

"He looked like he was just kind of looking around for someone to shoot," he said.

"We were all on the bus getting ready to go home and then we heard a first shot, so we were all kind of confused when we turned around and saw everybody running and they all noticed there was a kid with a gun," said student Kevin Zwolinski. "Then, there's the first shot and we saw a kid fall to the ground; the kid that got shot, one of the eighth graders. And so the bus driver told us all to get down … it was really scary."

Seventh-grade math teacher David Benke, a former college basketball player, tackled the shooter. Potter said he and another bus driver jumped on the gunman and helped hold him until authorities arrived.

"He was trying to rack another round. He couldn't get another round in before I got to him so I grabbed him," Benke said, recalling that he didn't have time to fear for his life.

Dr. David Benke is being called a hero after tackling the suspect. A Facebook Fan Page has been created for Dr. David Benke. As of Wednesday afternoon 22,000 people have become fans.

Benke says he was outside when, "I heard a sound like a firecracker. I walked over and saw a guy with a rifle. I just grabbed him and the next thing I remember, we were struggling."

Benke says he recalls doing drills at school that involved a gunman and he told his students that if the drill ever became a reality, he hoped he would have the courage to do something about it.

"He said there was a shooting and that he had to tackle the gunman," Benke's wife Sandra said. She said her husband was upset that he couldn't reach the shooter before two rounds were fired. "He said 'It was one of my students."

Benke spoke at a news conference Wednesday morning and said he doesn't consider himself a hero, he just followed his instincts. He says he hasn't had a chance to visit one of the victims, Matthew Thieu, in the hospital.

Matthew's mother released a statement Wednesday, thanking the community for their support. Her message reads as follows:

“We want to thank the community, our family and friends for their outpouring of support. We appreciate everyone’s concern, but ask that our privacy be respected so that we may devote all of our time and energy toward Matthew’s recovery.

Matthew is a recovering from a fractured rib and a lung injury.

We appreciate the care he is receiving at The Children’s Hospital, and he is in God’s hands.”

Thank you-
Matthew’s mother, Pattie

The Weber family released the following statement Thursday:

We would like everyone to know that Reagan is holding up very well both physically and emotionally. She constantly surprises us with her strength and composure under great stress. The rest of our family is also coping well - with the support of some wonderful neighbors, relatives, friends, and folks from around the city and state who have sent gifts and notes of encouragement. At this time we would ask for relief from further media requests so that some of the commotion settles down. Reagan wants to specifically thank her closest friends (you know who you are) and also Mrs. Adkins and Dr. Benke for their special courage. We send our warmest sympathies and sincere hopes for the full recovery of Matt. Hopefully he can go home soon. Finally, we trust everyone understands that the magnitude of this event was contained due to the excellence, training, and cool-headedness of the various professionals that responded so quickly. Our sincerest appreciation and respect goes out to all of the Deer Creek Middle School staff, the bus drivers, the Fire Department, Littleton Police officers, the doctors and nurses at Littleton Hospital (they are the best!!) and the men and women of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department. All of you deserve far more recognition than you get for the support you provide to our community. Reagan wants you to know that she thinks you are totally AWESOME. Peace, Joy, and Love -

the Weber's -- Craig, Deborah, Taylor, Morgan, and Reagan

After the shooting, students could be seen running from Deer Creek to Stoney Creek Elementary School, where they were being locked down safely until parents could pick them up.

"As a parent you don't want your child to have to go through something like that. I'm sure he got the scare of his life today," Zwolinski's mother said.

Eastwood was seen in court Wednesday for his first appearance. There were no cameras allowed in the courtroom but we're told he appeared by video hookup from the jail, wearing an orange inmate jumpsuit with his dark, shoulder-length hair hanging loose. Judge Thomas Vance advised Eastwood of his rights and that he was being held on suspicion of two counts of attempted first degree murder. Bond was sent in the amount of $1 million.

Eastwood has a criminal background with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and Colorado Courts of assault menacing, third-degree assault, domestic violence, and multiple traffic violations.

Bruco's father “War Eagle" Eastwood says the rifle used in the shootings Tuesday belonged to him. He said he just wanted to apologize to the entire community for what happened. “Sorry it was my son that even did it,” said “War Eagle”. “Sorry that it had to happen. It’s terrible.”

There's no word yet on a possible motive for the shooting.

Deer Creek Middle School is just about three miles from Columbine High School, the site of the nation's deadliest high school shooting ever. Deer Creek closed for the rest of the week. Students could begin picking up their belongings at the school on Friday but classes will not resume until Monday.

Eastwood will be seen in court again on March 2.

To check out Benke's Facebook Fan page, click on the link below.

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