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Oregon high school shooter's parents "horrified and distraught", offer apology

By Shelby Sebens

PORTLAND Ore. (Reuters) - The parents of a teenage Oregon gunman accused of opening fire this week at his high school, killing a classmate before taking his own life, said they were "horrified and distraught" by their son's actions in their first public apology.

Jared Michael Padgett, 15, is accused of opening fire at Reynolds High School in the middle-class Portland suburb of Troutdale on Tuesday, killing 14-year-old Emilio Hoffman before dying of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after exchanging gun shots with police.

The shooting, the third outbreak of gun violence at a U.S. high school or college campus in less than three weeks, drew the ire of President Barack Obama, who expressed frustration over the inability of Washington lawmakers to tighten gun control measures.

"We give our deepest condolences and heartfelt prayers to the family, friends and the entire community and you have our sincerest apology," Padgett's parents, Michael and Kristina, wrote in a letter given to a local Fox affiliate.

They said they were "horrified and distraught by the actions perpetrated by our son", who had every day displayed such attributes as compassion, forgiveness, and patience.

"Our family does not condone, and has never promoted, violence or hatred toward anyone," it said, adding the couple was "deeply sorrowful" for the victim's family.

Reuters could not independently verify the contents of the letter. Michael Padgett did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The 15-year-old was armed with a military-style rifle and a semiautomatic pistol obtained from his home and lacked any known connection to his victim, police said this week.

Gym teacher Todd Rispler was grazed by a bullet but made his way to the school's office to initiate the lockdown, possibly saving lives. Padgett was found dead in a bathroom stall.

"There are no words to describe the feelings we felt when we realized that our son might be involved," his parents said in the letter. "We are at a loss as to how and why this tragedy unfolded."

(Reporting by Shelby Sebens in Portland, Oregon; Writing by Eric M. Johnson; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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