***READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED***
Posts about real school tragedy, crime and/or events can be upsetting.
BLOG POST #51: This week, I’m sharing research on a specific criminal case involving a 16-year-old high school student.
His mother purchased the Winchester shotgun for him 2 days before he went to school with it hiding under his long black leather coat. He went directly to the school restroom that morning.
While in the restroom he texted three of his friends, “I’m in school with shotgun, get out.”
The 16-year-old student had suffered from depression for many years. He had also been briefly hospitalized in a psychiatric facility. He was prescribed numerous medications. In his medical record it was noted he had suicidal thoughts.
Rumor of his hospitalization spread to classmates which angered the teen. He’d previously had a few problems at school – detention and suspension for poor attendance and insubordination.
On that fateful morning, before leaving for school, he wrote a multi-page letter and left it on his bed. In the letter, he said goodbye to his loved ones and assured his mother “it wasn’t her fault.” He also listed people he hated with little explanation why. He’d planned on not living another day.
Fortunately for the students and staff at the high school that day, the assistant principal had decided to do a classroom observation and was in the hall when he saw the boy with the shotgun facing away from him.
The assistant principal, a male, and a former offensive tackle, made a split second decision and grabbed the shooter from behind. They wrestled; the boy was over 6-foot tall and more than 200 pounds. During the struggle, another male teacher approached to assist the assistant principal.
The shotgun went off and shot the teacher in the ankle. His injury wasn’t life threatening, but it rendered him unable to help overtake the student. The assistant principal tripped the student and took the gun away from him, and the two walked to the office where the student was eventually arrested. Thanks to the assistant principal’s heroism, there were no fatalities in this school shooting.
The shooter said to the police. “I have had fantasies for about the last year of going in [the school] and shooting up the place.”
Choosing to accept a plea agreement, he pleaded guilty to three counts of attempted murder in the second degree and six counts of reckless endangerment in the first degree.
The judge sentenced the 16-year-old to 20-years in prison. He has since filed an appeal that his age, his clean record, and his mental health weren’t taken into consideration when he was sentenced. He lost his appeal and his sentence was upheld.
Worth Mentioning: After this school shooting the school kept all entrances except one locked and planned to install an ID card swipe system. Visitors were to be escorted by employees with walkie-talkies. They also hired school resources officers. More than ten years later, additional safety measures were still under consideration.
Here’s a great resource from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for parents and schools who want to help their children be even safer at school: School Safety Info
What are your thoughts about this case? Join the conversation on the website. We talk about the sensitive subject of crimes occurring at or connected to schools. Your relevant comments are always welcome on the Research Blog.
Do you know of a school crime you’d like to share? Email me so we can discuss the details.
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