TROUTDALE, Ore. – The teen suspected of entering Reynolds High School Tuesday and killing one student before shooting himself was an active member of his Mormon church and was “highly regarded for his spirituality,” a church elder told NBC Wednesday.
The 15-year-old suspect, Jared Padgett, belonged to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on 3500 Southeast 182nd Ave in Gresham.
Church elder Earl Milliron said Jared was very active in the church, along with his father, Michael, and older brother, Lucas.
Milliron visited the family’s home after he heard about the shooting.
“I just can’t believe it,” Milliron told NBC Wednesday. “He was very quiet, very serious about his church.”
According to Milliron, Padgett was a deacon of the church. His father was also an elder, and acted as a spiritual adviser to his church community.
The LDS church released this statement Wednesday: “With the entire community, we are shaken and profoundly troubled by this tragedy that has impacted the lives of so many families and individuals. We are praying for all those involved, and hope they will be given the peace they need during this difficult time.”
Although Milliron said he was shocked by the tragedy, he did say the divorce of Padgett’s parents may have had an impact on the teen's mental state.
“It was rather tragic, the breakup of the family, and that took a heavy toll on his dad,” Milliron said.
Padgett is accused of gunning down fellow student Emilio Hoffman inside a school locker room and then killing himself. Investigators don't think Hoffman was a specific target and said they haven't been able to come up with a motive in the shooting, either.
Hoffman's close friend, Kaylah Ensign, said she was also stunned by the shooting. In a text message exchange with KGW Reporter Mike Benner, she said Padgett was “always polite.”
“He was kind,” Ensign said. “I never would have thought it was him. He always talked about guns and hunting but never in my mind could I see him hurt anyone. He barely even knew Emilio.”