A shooter has opened fire at a school in the US state of Washington, killing one person and injuring at least three others.

Brian Schaeffer of the Spokane Fire Department told reporters that one person died at Freeman High School in Rockford, south of Spokane,on Wednesday and three injured victims were taken to hospital.

Providence Sacred Heart Medical Centre and Children’s Hospital received three paediatric patients, spokeswoman Nicole Stewart said. They were in a stable condition, and family members were with them, she said.

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said at the scene that the shooter was in custody, The Spokesman-Review newspaper reported.

Cheryl Moser said her son, a pupil at Freeman High School, called her from a classroom after hearing shots fired.

“He called me and said: ‘Mom there are gunshots.’ He sounded so scared. I’ve never heard him like that,” she told the newspaper.

“You never think about something happening like this at a small school.”

Ambulances and a Lifeflight helicopter were sent to the school.

Stephanie Lutje told The Associated Press that she was relieved to hear her son was safe after his high school near Freeman was put on lockdown. She commended the school district for its communication with parents.

“It’s been amazing, within probably 15-20 minutes of hearing about it, I’d already received a phone call, I’d already received a text message saying that their school is okay,” she said.

She still worried for others she knew, including a co-worker who had yet to hear from her son, a pupil at Freeman.

“My stomach’s in knots right now,” she said

Governor Jay Inslee said that “all Washingtonians are thinking of the victims and their families, and are grateful for the service of school staff and first responders working to keep our students safe”.

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