2 killed in high school shooting
SANTEE, Calif. (AP) – A 15-year-old boy who had been picked on and had talked about shooting classmates allegedly opened fire in a high school bathroom Monday, killing two people and wounding 13 in the nation’s deadliest school attack since Columbine.
One student said the boy had a smile on his face as he fired away with a pistol at Santana High School in suburban San Diego.
The boy, a freshman whose name was not released, surrendered in the bathroom, dropped his gun and said he acted alone, telling officers: ”It’s just me,” according to sheriff’s officials. They said he will be charged as an adult with murder, assault with a deadly weapon and gun possession.
Both of the dead were students, and at least one of the victims was a campus supervisor, Sheriff William Kolender said.
Fellow students and an adult acquaintance said they had heard the boy’s threats over the weekend but thought he was joking and did not report him to authorities.
”He was picked on all the time,” student Jessica Moore said. ”He was picked on because he was one of the scrawniest guys. People called him freak, dork, nerd, stuff like that.”
Student John Schardt, 17, was in a nearby classroom when the shooting started about 9:20 a.m. in a boys’ restroom and spilled into a quad.
”I looked at the kid, and he was smiling and shooting his weapon,” Schardt said. ”It was total chaos. People were trying to take cover.”
Schardt said he took photos of victims and another student videotaped the gunman’s arrest, but authorities confiscated the film and the tape.
Andrew Kaforey, a 17-year-old senior, said he ran into the bathroom with a security guard after hearing what sounded like a firecracker or a gunshot. ”He pointed the gun right at me but he didn’t shoot,” Kaforey said.
As he and the guard ran out, the gunman shot the guard in the back, Kaforey said.
Investigators said the boy used a .22-caliber revolver, stopping once to reload, and retreated after the shooting into the bathroom.
The attack was the nation’s deadliest school shooting since the April 1999 bloodbath at Columbine High in Littleton, Colo., where two teen-agers killed 12 fellow students and a teacher before committing suicide.
In Washington, President Bush called the shooting ”a disgraceful act of cowardice.”
”This is my worst nightmare,” Principal Karen Degiescher said. She said that the campus will be closed Tuesday and that counselors were called in to help students.
Classmates and acquaintances of the boy described him as skinny and the subject of constant harassment. Students said he boasted about owning a gun.
Over the weekend, the boy ”was joking on and off that he was going to come to school and shoot people,” said Joshua Stevens, 15, a friend of the boy. ”He had it all planned out, but at the end of the weekend he said he was just joking and he wasn’t really going to do it.
”I said, ‘Like, you better be.’ And he said, ‘No, I’m serious.”’
”I should’ve stepped up even if it wasn’t true and stuff to take that precaution,” said Chris Reynolds, a 29-year-old who is dating Stevens’ mother. ”That’s going to be haunting me for a long time; that’s going to be with me for a long time. It just hurts, because I could’ve maybe done something about it.”
Reynolds said that the boy lives with his father and that his mother lives out of state. He said the boy stayed at Reynolds’ house Saturday night and talked about starting a shooting spree.
”I even mentioned Columbine to him. I said I don’t want a Columbine here at Santana. But he said, ‘No, nothing will happen, I’m just joking,”’ Reynolds said.
Neil O’Grady, 15, said the suspected gunman had also talked to him and other friends over the weekend about a shooting at the school.
”He was telling us how he was going to bring a gun to school … but we thought he was joking,” O’Grady said. ”We were like, ‘Yeah, right.”’
Recently, two skateboards had been stolen from the boy, O’Grady said. ”He always gets picked on. He’s scrawny, he’s little,” O’Grady said. ”People think he’s dumb.”
Shannon Durrett, a 15-year-old freshman, said she has known the boy since school began in September. He liked skateboarding and hung out with his skateboarding friends, she said. ”He was nice, he was funny, someone who would never do something like this,” Durrett said.
After the shooting, students were escorted to a nearby shopping center, where they filled a parking lot and milled anxiously while parents arrived and paramedics took away the wounded.
The 1,900-student school is about 10 miles northeast of San Diego and is the alma mater of Sharon Davis, wife of Gov. Gray Davis. She spoke during the school’s commencement in 1999.
”Sharon and I are shocked and deeply saddened by this tragedy,” the governor said in a statement. ”Our hearts and prayers go out to the students and their families, the school administrators and the law enforcement officials involved in this incident.”
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