SEATTLE (Reuters) - A student opened fire in the cafeteria of his Washington state high school on Friday, killing a classmate and wounding at least four others before taking his own life amid the chaos of students scrambling to safety, authorities said.
All of the victims were young people, and three were in critical condition with gunshot wounds to the head and in surgery, said Ms Joanne Roberts, chief of medicine at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett.
The fourth wounded victim suffered less serious injuries in the gunfire at Marysville-Pilchuck High School, about 30 miles north of Seattle, and had been transferred to another hospital.
Two of the victims were male and two female, hospital officials said.
"At this point, we are confirming that there are two deceased," Marysville Police Commander Robb Lamoureux told reporters.
Authorities said they did not yet know what may have motivated the assailant and declined to release the suspect's identity.
Witnesses described the gunman as a well-liked freshman and member of the school's wrestling and football teams.
They said he walked into the school's cafeteria at lunchtime and opened fire at a table of classmates.
"He came up from behind and had a gun in his hand and he fired about 8 bullets into backs of them. They were his friends so it wasn't just random," student Jordan Luton told CNN, adding that the gunman fired several more shots.
"Then he turned and looked at me and my girlfriend ... and kind of gave us a smirk and turned around and then shot more bullets outside," Mr Luton said.
Local television station KIRO showed images of students running from school buildings, crossing a sports field with their hands in the air as officers with rifles ran across the school yard.
The school district said students were being sent to a nearby church from where buses would take them home after the school was put on lockdown.
Parent Jerry Holston told CNN that his two children had contacted him by phone following the gunfire and were not wounded.
Mr Holston said his son Adam called him immediately following the shooting, yelling: "Dad, dad, hurry, someone is shooting. Please come."
NBC News reported that President Barack Obama had been briefed about the situation.
"Like all of WA, Trudi and I have everyone at #MPHS in our hearts and prayers. Please take care of each other," Washington Governor Jay Inslee said in a tweet.