By Military Connection Staff Writer Joe Silva.
Before classes began at Sparks Middle School on October 21, tragedy struck. A yet to be identified male student reportedly brought a Ruger 9mm, semi-automatic pistol, to the school in Sparks, Nevada. The student opened fire on the playground area of the school grounds, wounding two male classmates, and tragically killing a math teacher, before taking his own life.
None of the boys have been identified due to their ages. But the fallen teacher has been identified as 45 year old, 8th grade math teacher, Mike Landsberry, a Military Veteran. Landsberry served in the US Marine Corps, where he reached the rank of Corporal (E-4). Landsberry later served in the Nevada Air National Guard, where he completed two tours of duty in Afghanistan, and reached the rank of Master Sergeant (E-7).
Landsberry grew up in the Reno-Sparks area. He attended Robert McQueen High School in Reno. He obtained his Baccalaureate degree in Elementary Education from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Just after 7 a.m. on Monday, Mike Landsberry gave his life in an attempt to save the lives of students, including the shooter’s, at the school. The 12-year old gunman reportedly had been a victim of bullying. It is believed, but not confirmed, that the boy took the gun from his parents. Witnesses say that he shot one male classmate in the shoulder before Lansberry put himself between the shooter and other students. Landsberry willingly risked his life, the gun aimed right at his chest, as he tried to talk the shooter into surrendering his weapon. The boy fatally shot Landsberry. Then he shot another boy in the abdomen, before taking his own life with the gun. Authorities believe that many more children would have been wounded or killed if Landsberry had not acted.
Landsberry’s actions did not come as a surprise to those who knew him.
“To hear he was trying to protect those kids, that he stepped up and tried to stop the situation, doesn’t surprise me at all,” said sister-in-law, Chanda Landsberry. “He could have ducked and hid, but he didn’t. That’s not who he is.”
Landsberry is remembered as a fun, caring teacher, a mentor and friend to his students. Students remember him as the type of teacher who would commence tests by saying, “May the Force be with you.” Landsberry’s favorite superhero was Batman. There is a picture on a memorial website for Landsberry, created by his students, of Landsberry dressed like the caped crusader.
The word “hero” gets thrown around a lot today. Often used to describe professional athletes, mentors, idols and main characters from fictional tales, Hero with a capital H should be reserved for people like Mike Landsberry. Landsberry selflessly endangered, and ultimately surrendered his life, in order to protect those who were not capable of protecting themselves. Mike Landsberry is a true Hero, worthy of the title.
Mike Landsberry leaves behind his wife Sharon and two step-daughters.
An inter-faith candlelight vigil is scheduled for all of the victims of the Sparks Middle School shooting. The vigil will be held on Wednesday October 23, at 7 p.m. in front of the school. The Patriot Guard and other Veteran groups will participate in the vigil, including providing an honor guard.