U.S. teacher killed at Christian school in Iraq

U.S. teacher killed at Christian school in Iraq

Kirkūk : Iraq | Mar 01, 2012 at 9:24 PM PST
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Students grieve after a student shot dead his American teacher at a school in Sulaimaniya

SULAIMANIYAH, Iraq -- Chaos erupted in a classroom in Iraq Thursday after two gunshots rang out, leaving a teacher from Washington state the victim of a murder-suicide at a Christian school, according to The Seattle Times.

The case brings much speculation as to what could have spurred such violence by the student when a friendly debate was the only thing noted before the incident occurred.

During a friendly classroom disagreement, the student pulled a gun out and shot his teacher dead. Students began running out of the classroom in terror and some fainted out of fear. One of the students who ran out of the building heard a second shot and found out later it was the student gunman giving himself a lethal self-inflicted gun shot wound.

The teacher, identified as Jeremiah Small, was 33 at the time of his death. Mr. Small, from a small town in Washington state named Cosmopolis, taught at the private school in Sulaimaniyah, Iraq since 2006, according to his family.

Authorities reported the gunman's identity as Biyar Sarwar. He was 18.

Reportedly it started over a sports lecture as Mr. Small engaged his students in a friendly debate in their gym class. Kurdish authorities said the young adult shot "his friend" before he shot himself. Sarwar was transported to a local hospital where he later died.

Mr. Small came from a family where he resided as the oldest brother of seven. He visited his family in the small Gray's Harbor County, Wash., town a couple of times a year. Mattaniah Small, 30, one of the teacher's younger brothers, said his sibling was a devout Christian and dedicated instructor of the Kurdish students.

"Every time he left, it was a little bit of, 'Don't know if we'll see you again, but here's to hoping,' " Mattaniah Small recalled Thursday.

The difficult part about this horrific incident is that first of all, it was in a Christian school and secondly, when the disagreement with the other students broke out, both Small and Sarwar were on the same side of the debate.

Jeremiah Small's Facebook page here.

This is the second school shooting in just over a week where a Washington resident was the victim. The first included an 8-year-old girl who was accidently shot by her classmate last Wednesday in Bremerton. She is still fighting to recover. Her father says it will be a long road ahead as she is in serious condition in a local hospital (link below).

Follow Stephanie Ealy on Twitter @stephealy

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Jeremiah Small
Teacher from Washington state, Jeremiah Small, who was shot in his Iraq classroom by one of his students, Thursday.
Stephanie Ealy is based in Tacoma, Washington, United States of America, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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