Washington state school shooter sentenced to 40 years

SPOKANE, wash. — Caleb Sharpe, who five years ago shot a classmate and injured three others at a Washington state high school, apologized to his victims before being sentenced Friday to at least 40 years in prison.

Sharpe, who was 15 at the time of the 2017 shooting, pleaded guilty in Spokane County Superior Court early this year. Sharpe, 20, showed no emotion when Superior Court judge Michael Price handed down a sentence twice what the defense lawyers had asked for.

After serving his sentence, Sharpe will have to appear before a review committee for his release, Price ruled. The council will evaluate Sharpe’s likelihood of relapse and his level of rehabilitation.

He will be credited for nearly five years in pre-trial detention, the judge said.

After closing statements from lawyers for both sides, Sharpe made his first public comments since his arrest five years ago.

“I’m sorry for this entire community,” Sharpe said Friday. “I’m sorry for the people who can’t sleep at night.”

Sharpe also immediately apologized to his three injured victims and to Ami Strahan, the mother of 15-year-old Sam Strahan, who was killed in the attack.

“I’m especially sorry to Ami and Emily for taking Sam away from them,” Sharpe said.

“Evil has no place in my heart,” Sharpe said. “I can never do enough to repay what I have taken. I pray for forgiveness.”

On Thursday, Ami Strahan and the three injured girls made statements, all of which said they wanted Sharpe to serve the maximum time in prison, which is 45 years.

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Sharpe brought several weapons to school on the morning of September 13, 2017 and opened fire in a hallway, hitting four students before being confronted and surrendering to a guard.

After years of delay in court, Sharpe pleaded guilty in January to one count of first degree murder and three counts of attempted murder.

On Thursday, victims Emma Nees and Gracie Jensen described what happened the day Sharpe shot them in the second-floor hallway of their school.

“As I lay there, I saw you walking past me. Lockdown alarm is blaring, dressed all in black with the most emotionless face I’ve ever seen,” Jensen told Sharpe. “Shooting at my classmates as they run for their lives into the classrooms. I shouted. I couldn’t do anything else.”

“I started running and was so scared because I felt like I was running in slow motion,” said Emma Nees in her testimony. “My mission was to get to the nearest classroom as quickly as possible. While I was running, I started to think I’m definitely not going to get out of this.”

Ami Strahan said she was at work when friends came to her desk and told her to pick up the phone. They said there was a shooting at Freeman High.

When she arrived at the school, she found that she was being led to a different area than other parents: she was being taken to the sheriff.

When she told Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich who she was, he just shook his head.

“I yelled twice,” Strahan said. “And I fell.”

“You took my son in the worst possible way and you have no regrets,” Strahan told Sharpe. “You ruined my life.”

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She called Sharpe a “sick, bad coward.”

Brooke Foley, Sharpe’s public defender, previously asked the judge for a 20-year sentence, due to Sharpe’s age and lack of maturity at the time of the shooting.

Deputy prosecutor Sharon Hedlund agreed that Sharpe’s sentence should be below the standard range, but urged Price to issue a 35-year sentence.

On the day of the shooting, Sharpe brought a duffel bag to his school bus that contained an AR-15 rifle and pistol, along with numerous boxes of .223 ammunition.

At school, Sharpe went straight to a second-floor hallway, where he dropped the duffel bag and removed the assault rifle. He started to load the gun, which jammed.

As Sharpe struggled to load the weapon, Strahan approached him.

“I always knew you would shoot the school,” Strahan told Sharpe, according to court documents. “You know this will get you in trouble.”

Sharpe then pulled the gun from under his jacket and fired a single shot, hitting Strahan in the stomach. Strahan slumped forward, whereupon Sharpe shot him again, this time in the face.

Sharpe continued down the hall and shot and wounded the three girls.

After firing into the crowd, Sharpe threw the gun down. It was then that he was confronted by custodian Joe Bowen. Sharpe raised his hands above his head in surrender as Bowen approached.

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