SPARKS, Nev. — The Nevada middle school student who killed a teacher and wounded two classmates before turning the gun on himself appeared to be a typical 12-year-old who liked soccer, was good at video games and didn’t have a lot of friends but “didn’t seem to be a loner,” a friend said Friday.
Jose Reyes was always smiling and never complained to his friend Diego Munoz, 11, that he was bullied, Munoz told The Associated Press outside Sparks Middle School where Reyes fatally shot Michael Landsberry before committing suicide Monday on the school’s asphalt basketball court.
“I was really surprised he would do something like this,” said Munoz, a sixth-grader at neighboring Agnes Risley Elementary.
“When I heard it was him who was the shooter, I went into a stupor and asked, ‘Why did he do it?’” he said.
Reyes played soccer and often rode his bicycle in the working class neighborhood around the school, about 5 miles northeast of downtown Reno, Munoz said. He said the two played video games together, including Zombie games and the online building game Minecraft, and both were fans of MTV’s comedy clip show, “Ridiculousness.”
“He was more like your typical 12-year-old,” Munoz said. “Right now, we all want to be popular. He wasn’t one of those kids. He didn’t have a lot of friends, but he had a couple of friends. He didn’t seem to be a loner.”
“He never told me he was bullied,” he said. “Whenever we would go outside he was always smiling. He seemed happy ... He seemed intelligent. He won video games more often than not.’”
Munoz’ remarks echoed those of others who described Reyes as a shy boy, who nonetheless had friends and usually a smile on his face. He played the violin and was a big fan of the video game, “Call of Duty,” other classmates said.
Police have released little information about the shooting. They say he got the semi-automatic handgun from his residence, but they have no motive and don’t know if Reyes was targeting victims or firing randomly. They didn’t release his name until Thursday under pressure from the public and local media.
Tyler Waldman, 13, said he didn’t see Reyes — and doesn’t know who he is — but noticed Landsberry standing near the school about 7:15 a.m. Monday when everyone started running away and a friend told him “a student has a gun.”
“I heard a pop and saw him fall down,” said Waldman, who was in Landsberry’s seventh-grade math class last year.
More than a dozen students interviewed near the school Friday said Reyes’ name didn’t ring a bell.
“Until we see a picture of him, we won’t know whether we know him,” said Micah Crooks, 13.
School officials confirmed the investigation includes a review of an anti-bullying video that some students saw earlier this month that includes a dramatization of a child taking a gun on a school bus to scare aggressors. Washoe County School District spokeswoman Victoria Campbell said school officials can’t comment because of the active investigation.
Reno’s KRNV-TV has broadcast excerpts of the 1.5 hour documentary ‘— “Bully” by Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Lee Hirsch — chronicling the impact of bullying on five different youths and their families.
Katherine Loudon, the school district’s director of counseling, equity and diversity, said anything that would have been presented to children would have been part of a district-wide bullying prevention and intervention initiative that includes all schools in the county.
“We’ve been told by Sparks Police Department to not discuss that particular curriculum,” Loudon said.
Landsberry, 45, was a master sergeant in the Nevada Air National Guard, which announced plans Friday for a public memorial service with full military honors Nov. 3 at a Sparks church.
About 700 people, including Gov. Brian Sandoval, attended a private ceremony Thursday in the school’s gymnasium, which students decorated with posters, tributes, balloons and stuffed animals in recognition of their hero.
The ex-Marine coached basketball and soccer, and was known by all as a big fan of Batman. In addition to memorial drawings and references to the cartoon super hero, one unidentified veteran left the U.S. Navy Medal for Meritorious Service he earned in Iraq, with a note that read, “You deserve the medal of honor in my book.”
A former student who played last year on Landsberry’s eighth-grade girls’ soccer team said he was so dedicated to the squad he told them he would sacrifice his life for them.
“He told us once that he would take a bullet for us. He died doing just that,” said Lilian Martin, a freshman at Reno’s Wooster High School who remembers his lighter side. “He was always funny and made us laugh.”