Wounded Teacher Likely Saved Lives in Oregon School Shooting
06/11/2014 AT 04:30 PM EDT
A Troutdale, Oregon, gym teacher wounded in the Oregon school shooting is being hailed as a hero for managing to run to the office to alert officials, who quickly put Reynolds High School on lockdown.
Todd Rispler, who teaches physical education, was in the 3,000-student school's gym on Tuesday morning when a student (whom police identified as Jared Michael Padgett, 15, today) entered with a gun, fatally wounding 14-year-old freshman Emilio Hoffman in the boys' locker room.
The gunman's bullets grazed Rispler, but he quickly took off to the school office to warn others. He likely saved countless lives, Troutdale Police Chief Scott Anderson told reporters.
Padgett was later found dead in a locker room, and likely killed himself, ABC News reported. Rispler was treated at the scene and is recovering.
Rispler, who is married to a middle school teacher, was a former star athlete at Reynolds where he earned praise as a standout in football, basketball and track.
He turned to teaching after his own dreams of a professional football career were ended when he was nearly paralyzed while playing at a community college. He collided head-on with another player, ending his playing days, and was placed in a halo device to stabilize his neck.
"He was being looked at by every major university," Jeff Nelson, who is married to Rispler's older sister, told The Oregonian newspaper. "He was going to be All-American."
After his injury, Rispler attended Portland State University, and came back to teach at his old high school where he had also coached its track team.
"He loves the kids," Nelson told The Oregonian. "I would classify him as an incredible teacher."
His students agree.
"He's one of the best teachers in school," sophomore Edgar Arias told a Portland TV station.
Hoffman was honored by the Seattle Mariners at their Tuesday night game along with Seattle Pacific University student Paul Lee, who was killed by a shooter at the Christian university on June 5.