***READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED***
True-crime research, novel writing research, and updates. Posts about real school tragedy, crime, and/or events can be upsetting.
Even in a small rural community with a population of approximately 5,000 people, schools are also vulnerable to a school shooting.
Whether you live in a large urban area or a small rural town, if you have children in school, you’ll find this case interesting.
BLOG POST #217: This week, I’m sharing research on a specific crime involving a 14-year-old school shooter.
At the time of this crime, the school had less than 300 students in grades PreK-6. Although they didn’t have a full-time security person, they did have security cameras. In addition to an airlock system to enter the school, as known as a man-trap, where a person must pass through two sets of doors, which could both be locked to trap a person in between. And the staff had been through active-shooter training.
None of that preparedness stopped the school shooting from occurring.
Sadly, school shooters often come from troubled homes, or they are bullying victims. In this case, both tragic situations were in play.
The boy’s father had previous arrests for domestic violence and drugs.
After being expelled for taking a machete to school, the shooter was homeschooled.
The night before the shooting, his drunken father “fussed” at the boy, as he often did when he was drunk. This time he wanted to fight. His mother got between the two.
The next day, while the boy was doing his schoolwork, the father’s rage continued. At that point, he went to his father’s bedroom and removed the handgun from his nightstand drawer and loaded it.
His father was reading a bill in a chair when the boy shot him three times. Then he ran to kiss his rabbit, kissed the dogs, stole his father’s truck, and drove to the school.
He shot at a teacher and then toward the playground hitting two students. His gun jammed. He tossed the gun and phoned his grandparents to tell them what he’d done.
In the boy’s initial interview at the local sheriff department, he told officers he had no friends, and kids bullied him. He’d found a group of kids from different places in a private forum on social media who seemed to like him. They encouraged him to shoot people at the school.
More than one year after the shooting, at the age of 16, the teen pleaded guilty to two counts of murder—one of the young students who’d been shot didn’t survive. And he pleaded guilty to three counts of attempted murder.
Regarding the harsh sentence, the judge said, “You can’t come into our community, into our schools, and do what [he] did. I hope this sends a message to anyone else who would think about doing something like this.”
The judge sentenced him to Life in Prison.
Worth mentioning: A man who’d volunteered at the fire department for 30 years heard about the active shooter on his scanner. When he arrived at the school, he saw the shooter and tackled him to the ground where he kept him until law enforcement arrived. The town hailed him a hero.
My sincere condolences go out to everyone who has lost a loved one to school violence.
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.
Do you know of a school crime you’d like to share? Email me so we can discuss the details.
Thanks for reading!
Source: The New York Times, The State of South Carolina vs. defendant interview transcript, USA Today, Greenville News.
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