Wounded teacher expected shots at school, not on drive home
SEATTLE (AP) — Longtime schoolteacher Deborah Judd has grown accustomed to active-shooter drills in her second-grade classroom. She was less prepared to see a gunman in the street on her way home.
She became the first to be shot by a man as he opened fire on cars in a Seattle neighborhood, apparently at random, leaving two people dead and wounding a bus driver who was praised for getting the passengers to safety.
“He walked straight out in the middle of the road and he shot me, then he shot me again,” Judd, 56, told reporters from her hospital bed Thursday. “I guess I always thought something like that would happen in school because we talk so much about school shootings.
“But I never thought I’d be driving home in my car and someone would step out in the street and shoot me,” she said.
Judd was headed home to suburban Snohomish on Wednesday after a meeting at Laurelhurst Elementary School, “zipping along, I think I was eating Cheez-Its,” she said.
Then she saw the gunman. He fired into her windshield as she got close and fired again after the car came to a stop on a road that follows a ridge above Lake Washington in residential northeast Seattle.
Bullets lodged in her arm, shoulder and lung. Judd said she slumped over the emergency brake of her car and stayed still — wondering why no one was helping her — until the shooting stopped.
The gunman next fired into a King County Metro bus, striking the driver, and approached a car that had slowed down and shot again, killing the 50-year-old man behind the wheel and fleeing in his car as officers arrived, authorities said.
Police say suspect Tad Michael Norman, 33, then crashed head-on into another vehicle, killing the 70-year-old man driving. Norman was taken into custody after a brief standoff, police said.
Investigators offered no information about a potential motive. Norman, who lives near the shooting scene, was jailed on suspicion of homicide, assault and robbery. He was expected to make his first court appearance Friday, and it was not clear if he had obtained a lawyer who could speak on his behalf.
Norman did not appear to have any significant criminal history in Washington state. He was a vendor with Microsoft and his contract ended last year, a company representative said.
The bus driver, Eric Stark, 53, was shot in the torso but still managed to drive his passengers to safety, authorities said. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said he “saved lives and took action even after being harmed.”
Stark, recovering in a hospital Thursday, told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that “it’s what any other driver would be able to do if they were physically able.”
“I ducked down really quick for some cover, did like a two-second assessment of my injuries and figured, ‘Well, I can breathe, I can think, I can see, and I can talk,’” Stark said. “So for me, that was enough to go, ‘OK, we’re getting out of here. I’ve gotta get these people out of here.’”
None of the passengers aboard the bus got hurt, King County Metro said.
John Barrett told Seattle news station KOMO-TV that he was in his garage when he heard what sounded like firecrackers. Barrett went outside and saw a man pointing a gun at people as he walked down a street, “firing at anything just without any regard.”
Judd wept as she recounted hearing the shot that killed the 50-year-old and wondered if he had stopped to help her. She said she decided to speak with reporters so her students could see that she was all right.
“I want to make sure the kids know I’m OK and that I’ll be back soon and I love them,” she said. “You’re 7 years old and you have to process your teacher being shot. It’s not OK. It’s not OK. That’ll be something that sticks in their lives forever.”