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After passing note and saying he's sorry, Fairmount student shoots self in class

FAIRMOUNT, N.D. - The school in the small southeastern North Dakota town of Fairmount is letting students go home for the day and calling in counselors after a high school boy brought a gun to class and shot himself.

Principal Jay Townsend says the boy survived what officials believe was a suicide attempt Thursday morning. He says the boy did not threaten anyone else.

The boy was coherent when he was taken by ambulance to a hospital in Breckenridge, Minn., which is 15 miles away, Townsend said. The hospital declined to release any information about the boy because he's a minor.

Students told The Forum that the freshman student was in a freshman algebra class. The class started at 8:30 a.m. The students said about 10 minutes later the boy handed his girlfriend a note, told the teacher "I'm sorry," and then shot himself.

The students, who weren't in the algebra class, said they didn't hear the gunshot, but heard crying and screaming.

They described the boy as a bright student who enjoyed playing the guitar.

After the incident, the school was put into lockdown for about an hour.

Mayor Jon Nelk, who is also a firefighter and whose daughter is a freshman at the school, called it "a tragic day" for the community of about 370 residents.

"It's going to shake up the community for a long time," he said. "The city's prayers and thoughts go out to the young man and his family and friends."

Nelk said his daughter was not in the room where the freshman boy shot himself, but that "all of the kids in that area of the school, in that grade, were very, very shook up."

Many parents went through similar emotions, Nelk said.

"When I picked my daughter up there were a lot of parents picking up their kids," he said. "Most of the parents were scared, not knowing exactly what happened, just hearing that there was a shooting."