This is the first picture of one of the hero teachers who faced down a gunman at Crawley College.
The masked attacker, who was also armed with a knife, was said to have fired a blank at Steve Hopkins, 51, according to one eyewitness.
His neighbour Mark Upton, 70, said he wasn’t surprised to hear the tutor, 51, had intervened to help his students, adding that Steve was a “big guy” who does free weights in his garage.
He added: “He’s a nice guy who keeps himself to himself. He’s a teacher of some sort I think.”
A video showed another staff member bravely tackling the gunman to the ground in the terrifying incident yesterday.
An 18-year-old was detained following and a firearm and a knife were seized, while two members of staff were treated for minor injuries.
Hero Teacher Tackles Gunman And Armed Police Take Him Away
The college’s principal also paid tribute to the bravery of staff, who are said to be at home resting while the campus remained closed today.
Vicki Illingworth said: “Our college community was shaken by the actions that occurred yesterday afternoon.
“I cannot praise the courage, resilience and support shown by our staff enough. They have been incredible and the care and compassion they shared with our students and with each other continues to fill me with admiration.
“We can confirm two members of our staff did sustain some minor injuries, which were not gunshot wounds.
“Their heroic actions – and the rapid response of emergency services – helped to protect our college community.”
Student Elise Stellebotte said she left her classroom after hearing several shots ring out, only to be confronted by the suspected gunman.
“I saw the gunman,” the 17-year-old said.
“He was wearing a black puma hoodie and a mask. I was only a few yards away and I could see he had this pistol in his hand and was waving it around.
“I don’t think he was very old but he was difficult to see behind the mask and hoodie.
“He pointed the pistol at my tutor, Steve Hopkins, and fired but they were just blanks thank God. He was so shocked.
“He continued ranting and shouting telling people to ‘run, run’. He was trying to scare people, deliberately. Everyone was pretty scared.”
One student was in the hallway when she overheard a huddle of teachers talking about someone walking around with a gun.
The 18-year-old, who asked to remain anonymous, called her mum to let her know about the potential threat before rushing back to her classroom.
When a teacher came to lock the students in saying there had been an incident, the teenager positioned herself next to a cupboard in case an attacker burst through the doors and she needed to seek shelter.
“At that point I didn’t know if I had 10 minutes to live or if I’m going to get out of here alive,” she told The Mirror.
“I thought he was walking around emptying it into classrooms. I went into a state of shock.”
The student, who decided not to tell her classmates what was happening in order not to panic them, was the only one in the room who was aware of the threat.
“People in my class have certain needs so it would have caused panic if I told them,” she continued.
“I thought I was the only one in the class who would get to say goodbye to my family. I told my friend who asked me what was going on to call his mum.”
Just as the teenager was saying what she feared would be her final goodbyes to her mum, a teacher unlocked the room and escorted them out.
“We were met by an armed police officer who pointed a gun at us and told us to turn out our pockets and put our hands above our heads,” she continued.
“At that point I didn’t know if people were dead or had bullet wounds.”
She added: “We thought someone was going round college at the time. I thought I had ten minutes left to live.”
Police today continued to search a house in the Crawley neighbourhood of Furnace Green as part of their investigation into the college shooting.
Officers were seen carrying evidence, including a laptop and items of clothing, out of the two-bedroomed 1960s white-bricked end of terrace former council house with forensic bags.
A neighbour said of the occupants of the house – which is on a footpath – being searched just metres away: “They seem like lovely people. You just don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors.”
Chief Inspector Shane Baker, of the Crawley Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “I’d personally like to thank everyone who helped to quickly bring this incident to a safe conclusion, especially the two members of college staff whose heroics have not gone unnoticed.
“They put themselves in harm’s way in order to protect their students, fellow employees and the wider public, and I am hugely grateful for their quick-thinking actions.
“During this, they sustained minor injuries – not gunshot wounds – and presented themselves to a walk-in medical centre. Thankfully, no other injuries were reported, and no damage was caused by the blank shots fired.
“We are treating this as an isolated incident which was not terror-related, and while we are not seeking anyone else in connection with it, we will continue to provide a high visibility police presence in the area for community reassurance.
“We are also working with the college and the local authority to manage the welfare and wellbeing of those involved – including students – who will have been understandably shocked by this experience.”