(Photo Courtesy: Reno Gazette Journal)
A Nevada middle school student shot and killed a teacher and wounded two students Monday before fatally shooting himself in the nation's latest horrific act of school violence.
Police said the teacher died trying to protect students.
"We've got video we have to review, people we've got to talk to," said Tom Robinson, deputy chief of Reno police. "But in my estimation, he is a hero. We do know he was trying to intervene."
The Reno Gazette-Journal said the victim, 45-year-old Michael Landsberry, was also a member of the Nevada Army National Guard. Landsberry was a popular math teacher at Sparks Middle School, the Journal said.
Chanda Landsberry said her brother-in-law, who received bachelor's degree in Education from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2001, loved teaching.
"He loved his school kids. He loved the Guard," she said. "It defined him."
Eighth-grader Kyle Nucum, 13, said he was on an outside basketball court when the shooting happened about 7:15 a.m. local time.
"We heard a pop, like a loud pop, and everybody was screaming and the teacher came to investigate," Kyle said. "I thought it was a firecracker at first, but the student was pointing a gun at the teacher. After the teacher told him to put it down, and the student fired a shot ... at the teacher and the teacher fell and everybody ran away."
READ MORE: Math teacher killed trying to protect students in Nevada school shooting
Kyle said he and other students heard four or five more shots as they ran across a field, where a woman let them into her home.
Student Michelle Hernandez said she saw the shooter Monday morning. "I heard him saying, 'Why you people making fun of me, why you laughing at me,?" Michelle said.
Eighth-grader Seth Hinchberger said the shooter "pulled out a weapon and just shot it. And scared all of us and we just started running."
Seth said they ran into a hall and created a pile, "guys in the front ... for the safety of the girls." He said the shooter came over and appeared to aim at the pile, but was distracted by a teacher and started shooting in another direction.
Landsberry's students shared the pain of his loss in an outpouring of heartfelt messages on social media, and shared silly photos of their teacher, showing his playfulness in the classroom.
Michael Landsberry kept a math website to help his students get through each year called "Welcome to Mr. L's Math Class for 2013-2014."
"I have one classroom rule and it is very simple: 'Thou Shall Not Annoy Mr. L,'" the site said. "I am looking forward to getting to know and teach all of you this year. I know that at times the year will be tough and boring but I will do my best to make the lessons exciting."