Colorado High School Student Sets Self on Fire in Cafeteria

ABC News
Colorado High School Student Sets Self on Fire in Cafeteria
.

View photo

Colorado High School Student Sets Self on Fire in Cafeteria (ABC News)

A student at a suburban Denver high school set himself on fire in the school's cafeteria today and is in critical condition, authorities said.

A female teacher was treated for minor cuts when she broke a pane of glass to access a fire extinguisher and a school custodian used the extinguisher to put the fire out, Westminster Police Investigator Cheri Spottke told ABC News.

The student, who is 16 but otherwise not identified, is in critical condition with severe burns, Spottke said.

The incident happened at 7:12 a.m. in the cafeteria of Standley Lake High School in Westminster, Colo. Police said students were present in the cafeteria at the time, but none were injured.

The school released a statement saying in part, "A student sustained severe burns when he entered the school cafeteria and lit himself on fire. The student has been transported to an area hospital and is in critical condition. Our hearts and prayers go out the family and school community."

"At this time we do believe that this was a suicide attempt," Spottke said.

Investigators do not know why the boy set himself on fire, and are talking to his friends, school employees and his parents for clues, Spottke said. They are also reviewing surveillance video from inside the school cafeteria, police said.

Police would not comment on whether the boy said anything before lighting himself on fire, or if he had doused himself in gasoline or any other accelerant.

Spottke told ABC News affiliate KMGH, "We don't know of any threats ahead of time at this point but that's something that we're looking into obviously-social media and that type of stuff we're looking at to see if there were any threats made."

She added, "We're taking the most precautionary measures. Nowadays with everything that happens in these schools, we're going to go through the entire school- room by room, floor by floor, to make sure there's not any other devices or anything like that."

School is closed today and Tuesday, and counselors are being brought in to help, police said.

Today's incident was the latest to affect a Denver-area school in recent weeks.

On Thursday, Columbine High School, where two gunmen killed 13 people in 1999, went on high security alert after receiving a series of threatening phone calls. The alert applied to a half-dozen other schools in the area, in the same school district as Standley Lake, but was lifted the same day.

On Dec. 13, student gunman Karl Pierson, 17, fatally shot Claire Davis, a 17-year-old classmate at Arapahoe High School in Centennial before killing himself in the school's library. Pierson reportedly had threatened a teacher and librarian who had disciplined him last year and allegedly was seeking that teacher when he entered the school, investigators have said.

Westminster was home to 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway, who was abducted on her way to school and killed in 2012. Austin Sigg, who was 17 at the time of the crime, was sentenced to a life sentence plus 86 years. Jessica's disappearance put Westminster and neighboring Denver suburbs on edge as police, aided by an army of volunteers, searched for her and then her killer.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

View Comments (5002)

Recommended for You

  • School shooter texted 'I'm sorry' to family before killings

    SEATTLE (AP) — Minutes before a Washington state high school freshman fatally shot four friends and then himself, he sent a group text message to his family outlining his funeral wishes and apologizing to the parents of the teenagers he was about to kill.

    Associated Press
  • N.Korea would have 'no chance' in a conflict with South: US

    North Korea would have no chance of defeating its southern neighbor and its allies in a conflict, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said Tuesday, days after the peninsula appeared on the brink of armed conflict. Last month's inter-Korean crisis was triggered by landmine blasts that maimed two…

    AFP
  • Complex Media
  • Missouri executes man who raped, killed teenage girl

    Missouri on Tuesday executed a man who, along with a friend, pleaded guilty to the 1989 abduction, rape and murder of a 15-year-old girl, a state corrections department spokesman said. Roderick Nunley, 50, was pronounced dead at 9:09 p.m. CDT after receiving a lethal injection of drugs at the…

    Reuters
  • View

    Kentucky county clerk refuses to issue same-sex marriage licenses (41 photos)

    Gay couples in a Kentucky county are expected at the courthouse door Tuesday morning after the Supreme Court ruled against a defiant clerk who has refused to hand out marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The Supreme Court ruled against the county clerk who refused to issue gay marriage licenses,…

    Yahoo News
  • A preview of new gear China's military showing off at parade

    BEIJING (AP) — When China rolls out its latest armaments Thursday for a lavish parade commemorating the defeat of Japan in World War II, defense experts and foreign armies will be watching closely for any revelations about new military capabilities.

    Associated Press
  • Tennessee man, 76, charged with killing wife over church tithe money

    A 76-year-old Tennessee man was charged with first-degree murder after fatally shooting his wife because he thought she had stolen and hidden money he planned to tithe to his church, law enforcement officials said on Tuesday. Norman McKinney of Erwin, Tennessee, in the eastern part of the state,…

    Reuters
  • Rare Supermoon Lunar Eclipse Coming This Month

    The cosmic event will take place on the night of Sept. 27 when two periodic events -- supermoons and lunar eclipses -- will happen at the same time, making for a rare coincidence. A supermoon occurs when a full moon happens when it is at the closest point in its elliptical orbit around Earth,…

    ABC News
  • Man mistaken for hat-wearing bank robber seeks $3.3 million

    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Rodolfo Valladares wore the wrong hat to the wrong Miami bank while trying to cash a $100 check in a case of mistaken identity that's led to a court battle over $3.3 million.

    Associated Press
  • Hong Kongers fight to save beloved trams

    A controversial new proposal to take Hong Kong's beloved trams off the streets has sparked a wave of anger from residents who fear losing track of the city's past. Known as "ding-dings" for the sound of their bells, trams have served the northern coastline of the city's main island for more than…

    AFP
  • Woman Becoming Nun Needs Friend's Interest, Not Concern

    DEAR ABBY: I was best friends with "Joanne" after we met in middle school. She comes from a conservative Christian family and has three successful siblings. This has made her quirky, media-driven pursuits and city life a disappointment to her family. When we were teens and she learned that I was a…

    Dear Abby
  • Man who got life for marijuana charge goes free in Missouri

    JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A man sentenced to life without parole on a marijuana-related charge was freed Tuesday from a Missouri prison after being behind bars for more than two decades — a period in which the nation's attitudes toward pot steadily softened.

    Associated Press
  • Mass grave found in northern Mexico

    A mass grave has been found in northern Mexico, authorities said Tuesday, as a rights group indicated it could contain 31,000 bone fragments corresponding to at least 31 bodies. The pit was discovered on a ranch in the town of Salinas Victoria, some 35 kilometers (22 miles) north of the industrial…

    AFP
  • A China meltdown? Why its Asian neighbors aren't worried.

    As the world worries that China’s economic troubles will cause a wide-reaching meltdown, China closest Asian neighbors are not yet panicking. Pacific-rim countries will surely be impacted by China’s four-year economic slowdown, which came into sharper focus in late August with a sudden stock market…

    Christian Science Monitor
  • This year's El Nino weather pattern could be strongest on record: experts

    By Tom Miles GENEVA (Reuters) - The current El Nino weather phenomenon is expected peak between October and January and could turn into one of the strongest on record, experts from the World Meteorological Organization said at a news conference on Tuesday. Climate models and experts suggest surface…

    Reuters
  • View

    Photos of the day - September 1, 2015 (27 photos)

    People visit the Rain Room, an installation by Random International, at a museum in Shanghai, China, refugees wait for transportation to one of the refugee reception centers in Munich and Barbora Strycova throws her racket after losing a point to Timea Bacsinszky during the first round of the U.S.…

    Yahoo News
  • The N-Word Was Written On a Florida Family’s Lawn

    The family is understandbly angry.

    Complex Media
  • Egypt gas find sparks panic in Israel about Israeli reserves

    JERUSALEM (AP) — Egypt's new natural gas bonanza is causing an uproar in Israel, with energy stocks plummeting and recriminations over indecisiveness and infighting that have delayed production from the country's own gas fields.

    Associated Press