A bullet from a gunman grazed teacher Todd Rispler, but he still managed to sound the alert that someone was shooting a rifle inside Reynolds High School on Tuesday morning.
Rispler was treated at the scene, captured in a cellphone photo surrounded by FBI agents and others who rushed to the school in Troutdale. Students described blood and a hole in Rispler's shirt that hung near his left hip.
"Despite being injured, Todd was able to make his way to the office and initiate the school lockdown," Troutdale Police Chief Scott Anderson said at a late afternoon news conference.
By then, Rispler already was being praised for how he responded and recovering from the wound.
"Todd is doing great," said Rispler's wife, Kim, as she drove into the garage at the family's house Tuesday evening. "Our hearts go out to Emilio and his family." She is a teacher at Walt Morey Middle School and said both she and her husband taught Emilio Hoffman, the 14-year-old freshman who died in the shooting.
Hoffman was killed in the boys locker room in the gym, which is separate from the main school building. The gunman, still unidentified, died in a nearby bathroom.
The freshman was a midfielder on the school's junior varsity soccer team, according to a team roster.
Rispler himself was a star athlete at Reynolds, where he was the starting quarterback on the football team during his freshman and sophomore years.
"He was being looked at by every major university," said Jeff Nelson, who's married to Todd's older sister, Maren Nelson. "He was going to be all-American."
Nelson said Rispler was one of those rare athletes who played both offense, as a quarterback, and defense, as a safety.
"He was on the field all game," Nelson said.
But Rispler's football career ended on the field at Mount Hood Community College during a game between Reynolds and Barlow. Rispler had the ball and was charging ahead when he collided head-on with a line backer from Barlow.
The Barlow player was knocked out. Rispler, who initially felt OK, was carried out in a stretcher.
Doctors at Woodland Park Hospital said he came within a hair of being paralyzed, Nelson said.
To patch him up, doctors put a halo-like contraption on Rispler to stabilize his head. After a few months, doctors said he was better so Rispler started shooting hoops. He caught the halo on the net and ripped it off his head.
"He was a kamikaze kind of kid," Nelson said.
As a junior and senior at Reynolds, Rispler played basketball and was on the track team. He went to Portland State University, aiming to be a teacher and coach and did just that at Reynolds, where he was the track coach until about two or three years ago.
Nelson said Rispler was dedicated to the students.
"He loves the kids. I would classify him as an incredible teacher," Nelson said.
Todd Rispler as a high school athlete
Nelson said Rispler is also a wonderful man who loves his family and is dedicated to his own two daughters, who have both been active in sports.
"He's just a jewel of a person," Nelson said. "He cares about people. He would give you the shirt off his back."
Nelson has a hard time believing that Rispler was the object of the shooter. He's relieved that his brother-in-law will be fine.
"They just stitched him up," Nelson said. "I don't think any bones were hit. It's a blessing."
Rispler graduated with a master's in education from Portland State University and went straight to work as a physical education teacher at Reynolds High School.
Rispler was the head track coach for many years, stepping down last year or the year. Rispler has also coached basketball and football at Reynolds.
"He loves to coach kids," said Bob Rispler, one of Todd Rispler's older brothers. "He's very encouraging. He's technically astute. He has a great rapport with kids."
Bob Rispler said his brother has been state track coach of the year at least once.
In his spare time, Rispler supports the many athletic activities of his two daughters, who are high school and middle school in the Gresham School District.
"He's a great family man," Bob Rispler said. "He does it all. He's reliable. He's honest. Trustworthy. Everybody loves Todd."
-- Lynne Terry, Lynne Palombo, Maxine Bernstein, Kasia Hall