LITTLETON, Colo. — A suburban Denver community was in mourning Sunday after the death of a 17-year-old high school student who was shot in the head by a classmate.
Claire Davis, 17, who was shot at close range at Arapahoe High School in Centennial on Dec. 13, died Saturday, according to hospital officials and her family.
‘‘Despite the best efforts of our physicians and nursing staff, and Claire’s fighting spirit, her injuries were too severe and the most advanced medical treatments could not prevent this tragic loss of life,’’ Littleton Adventist Hospital said in a statement. “Claire’s death is immensely heartbreaking for our entire community, our staff and our families.’’
The Davis family said in a statement that it is grateful for the 17 years it had with Claire. ‘‘The grace, laughter, and light she brought to this world will not be extinguished by her death; to the contrary, it will only get stronger,’’ it said. The family said it appreciated the outpouring of support from the community and thanked the efforts of law enforcement, school officials, and medical staff.
The date for a public memorial to honor the teen would be announced later, the hospital’s statement said.
Friends and well-wishers had posted prayers online and raised money to help pay for Davis’s medical care in days after the shooting. On Friday, about 100 people gathered at a church near the school to pray for the teen.
The Denver Foundation said a fund had been created honoring her that would support high school and community programs dealing with mental health, antibullying, and other issues.
Karl Pierson, 18, shot Davis, who just happened to be sitting nearby with a friend as Pierson, armed with a shotgun, ammunition strapped to his body, Molotov cocktails, and a machete, entered the school and headed toward the library. Davis appeared to be a random target, Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson has said.
Pierson probably intended to track down a librarian who had disciplined him, but Robinson said Pierson’s arsenal suggested that the youth intended to hurt many others at the school, located just 8 miles from Columbine High School.
Pierson set off one of the incendiary devices and fired five shots before killing himself just 1 minute and 20 seconds after entering the building. He knew a sheriff’s deputy assigned to the school was closing in, Robinson said at a news conference.
Senior Chris Davis, who is not related to Claire Davis, said the wounded girl loved horses, had a lot of friends, and always seemed happy. Chris Davis, whose locker is next to Claire’s, helped organize a fund-raising effort for her family.
At student vigils after the shooting, classmates shared stories about their friend.
The Arapahoe shooting occurred a day before the one-year anniversary of the Newtown, Conn., attack in which a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Police believe Pierson was initially targeting a librarian who coached the school’s speech and debate team. Pierson was a skilled speaker and debater on the team. The librarian, whose name was not released, had disciplined the teen in September for reasons that have not been disclosed. Robinson said Pierson had made some sort of threat against the librarian in September.
‘‘We are looking into that, to the degree that it was understood, and then what interactions or interventions took place,’’ the sheriff said.
The librarian was able to escape the school unharmed, Robinson said. Pierson legally purchased his shotgun at a local store a week before the shooting and bought the ammunition the day of the shooting.
Anyone 18 and older is allowed to buy a shotgun in Colorado; only those over 21 can legally buy a handgun.