May 8 (UPI) -- Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone began his pregame press conference before Game 5 of the NBA Western Conference Semifinals by emotionally addressing a shooting at a Colorado STEM school.
"From myself, our team, our organization, our thoughts and prayers are with all those families, students, school administrators, everybody that was there today," Malone told reporters. "It's a tragedy."
One student died and eight others were injured Tuesday during the attack at Highlands Ranch, which was perpetrated by two other students, each of whom was apprehended. Malone said he and his family live in the community, though his children do not attend the STEM school.
Three of the victims, as young as 13, had been discharged from the hospital as of Wednesday afternoon.
Last month marked the 20th anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre, which left 13 dead. Many Colorado schools either shut down or increased security in mid-April after a "credible threat" made by a high school senior from Miami.
FBI officials described Sol Pais as being "infatuated with Columbine." Pais purchased a pump-action shotgun and ammunition in Denver before she was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot.
"This is an epidemic and it continues to happen," Malone said.
Malone said his daughters' school was put in lockdown during Tuesday's shooting. Her school also was locked down when Pais was in Colorado last month.
"I'm texting my daughter telling her she's going to be OK," Malone said. "I don't even know if she will be OK. This is every parent's worst nightmare, something that when you see your kids go to school in the morning, it's 'have a great day,' and you just assume everything is going to be alright and as we all know, it's not."
Malone acknowledged that he and the Nuggets needed to stay focused in the hours following the shooting.
"I would not do a disservice to our players and our organization and our fans by allowing that to affect how you prepare and how you perform tonight," Malone said. "We have a job to do and these are scary times for everybody and you have to find a way to be mentally tough and get through it."
Denver beat the Trail Blazers, 124-98, in Game 5 of the NBA Western Conference semifinals. Denver has a 3-2 lead and can clinch a spot in the Western Conference Finals with a road win in Portland on Thursday night.