Authorities did not immediately identify the suspected shooter, but said he arrived at Freeman Middle School and Elementary with more than one weapon.
“He attempted to fire one weapon, and it jammed,” Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said at a news conference. “He went to his next weapon. A student walked up to him, engaged him, and that student was shot. That student did not survive.
“The shooter then fired more rounds down the hallways, striking three more students and those students are in the hospital in serious condition.”
It took a “fairly courageous act” by a school staff member in the second-floor hallway to neutralize the shooter, the sheriff said.
“Police did not fire their weapons,” Knezovich said. “The individual was already disabled by that point.”
The initial motive appears to be related to “a bullying type situation,” he added.
Freeman Superintendent Randy Russell said that school would be canceled on Thursday.
Mike Moore, chief of surgery at Sacred Heart Medical Center, said that the injured students were in their “mid-teens” and that one would require surgery. Moore added that all three would stay at the hospital through Wednesday night.
Ambulances delivered two of the students to the hospital; a helicopter transported the other.
Meanwhile, the school was searched and authorities were making sure all the children were accounted for.
“They did a modified lockdown drill yesterday,” Annie Baxter, who has two daughters at Freeman, told the The Spokesman Review. “I thought it was weird because they wouldn’t do (a drill) two days in a row.” Knezovich confirmed the lockdown drill.
“I saw someone carrying a gurney into the elementary school, but I didn’t know why,” she added.
Kevin Morrison of Spokane Public Schools told KREM 2 News/King 5 News that they were notified of the incident at 10:30 a.m. prompting a district-wide lockdown, which was later lifted.
“As Spokane County officials continue their investigation to get the answers to the questions so many of us have during these unthinkable tragedies, the Washington State Patrol and all state agencies will do whatever we can to help provide support and comfort in the days and weeks to come,” Inslee said in a statement.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates and follow BuzzFeed News on Twitter.
Blake Montgomery and Sarah Mimms contributed to this report.