Gunman kills student at an Oregon high school

A gunman shot and killed a student at an Oregon high school Tuesday, in the latest in a spate of US shootings which are becoming chillingly regular.

The gunman, armed with a rifle, also died in the incident at Reynolds High School in the northwestern US state, said the local police chief.

Witnesses reported students and teachers cowering in classrooms as the shooting unfolded. One teacher was also injured. It was unclear if the gunman killed himself or was shot by police.

"A gunman entered the high school this morning, shot one student. Unfortunately, that student has died," said police chief Scott Anderson in the city just east of Portland.

"The gunman was located and the gunman is also deceased," he added.

A woman, whose daughter is a substitute teacher at the school, recounted exchanging texts with her as the shooting unfolded.

"My daughter was just shaking and scared. From the texts that she sent me ... she was huddled in the corner of a room with some students and had the lights out," the mother told KOIN 6 television.

"When a SWAT team person unlocked the door to her room she freaked out, thinking that it was the shooter coming in," she told the broadcaster.

The shooting is the latest of four such incidents over the past three weeks in the former Wild West region of the United States.

On May 23, a student with mental problems, the son of a Hollywood director, went on a gun rampage at a college campus in Santa Barbara, north of Los Angeles, killing six people and then himself.

On June 5, a gunman killed one person and injured two others on on a college campus in the northwestern US city of Seattle, in what the local mayor denounced as America's "epidemic of gun violence."

Then on Sunday, a couple with possible links to anti-government militia shot dead two police officers execution-style in a Las Vegas pizza restaurant, before killing another civilian nearby and then themselves.

- A muted response -

Previous mass shootings, like that which killed 20 children and six adults in Newtown, Connecticut in December 2012, have triggered intense debate about America's relatively lax gun control laws.

But the latest wave of shootings has triggered only muted public debate, possibly due to the scale and regularity of the killings or the the lack of concrete progress generated by previous protests.

The Newtown massacre relaunched a push for gun control laws, and a handful of states have since tightened gun rules.

But the nationwide measures President Barack Obama supported failed in the US Senate due to fierce opposition from gun rights supporters, led by the National Rifle Association (NRA).

The school where Tuesday's shooting occurred has some 2,800 students, although many of them finished classes last week, so it was unclear how many were on site.

National and local TV news channels covered the scene live, showing large numbers of armed police scrambling to lock down the school after reports of shots fired around 8:00 am.

But about an hour later, the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office said the situation was "stabilized."

- AFP

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