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SHOOTINGS IN AMERICAN SCHOOLS

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

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School events from 1998 to the present time:

Common features in many high school shootings are:
bulletThe gunman is male.
bulletHe was 16 years of age or under at the time of the shooting.
bulletHe had easy access to a firearm.
Triggers were often one of the following:

bulletHe had experienced long term harassment and marginalization by fellow students, until he snapped.
bulletHe suffered from a form of mental illness, often undiagnosed.
bulletHe was the victim of corporal punishment administered by the school. 1

Some examples:

bullet1998-MAR-24: - Middle School,Jonesboro, AR: Mitchell Johnson, aged 13, allegedly brought a knife to school on MAR-23. He was allegedly paddled by a teacher. He returned the next day with another student aged 11. Between them, they had three handguns and three rifles. He killed the teacher who had paddled him, and injured four students.
bullet1999-NOV-19 - Deming Middle School, Deming, NM:  Araceli Tena, aged 13, was shot in the back of the head, and died. Victor Cordova, Jr., aged 12, has been charged with the shooting. He had said to fellow students on the day before the shooting that he would "make history blasting this school." Apparently, Cordova had been extremely depressed and angry in recent months, perhaps because of the death of his mother in 1999-FEB.
bullet1999-DEC-6 - Fort Gibson Middle School, Ft. Gibson, OK: A 13 year old male shot four students: three boys and a girl. All recovered. One additional student received minor bruises in the attack. Deputy Terry Cragg of the Muskogee County Sheriff's Office said: "He doesn't even know who it was he shot. There was not a hate thing. I asked him why. He said, 'I don't know.' "He was described as intelligent, an honor student, and a church goer. 2
bullet1999-DEC-7: Netherlands: A 17 year old male student opened fire in a high school in Veghel, about 60 miles south of Amsterdam, Netherlands. He is believed to have been seeking revenge for his sister. One teacher and four students were wounded. The Dutch were stunned by the news. They have very strict gun laws in that country, and had never experienced an event of this type.
bullet1999-DEC-16: Littleton, CO: A Columbine High School student visiting an Internet chat room on DEC-15 received a threat. The message allegedly said: "I need to finish what was begun. If you go I don't want you or your blood on my hands." School officials decided to close the school on DEC-16 and reopen on JAN-4. The FBI are questioning a student from Florida who may have initiated the posting.
bullet1999-DEC-14: Miami FL: A 14 year old boy in Miami walked into his biology class at Archbishop Curley-Notre Dame High School, brandishing two hand guns. He demanded "respect." Moments later, three teachers talked him into putting down the weapons. He let 29 students in the class go free. He then cried for help.
bullet2000-JAN-28: Littleton, CO: According to the ReligionToday news summary: Police allowed the parents of the victims to see five video tapes that the perpetrators of the Columbine shooting made in advance of the attack. The videos show that the perpetrators vented "their rage at athletes, minorities and Christians."
bullet2000-APR-20: Ottawa, ON, Canada: A 15 year old student allegedly stabbed four students and an adult computer technician with a steak knife. The event occurred on the anniversary of the Littleton CO mass shooting. The alleged perpetrator was described as a school outcast, a "loser" who "talked kind of crazy." It appears that he had been continually marginalized and harassed by other students.
bullet2000-MAY-1: Taber, AL, Canada: Dale Long, the father of Jason Long who was killed in 1999-APR-30, publicly forgave his killer. Dale is an Anglican priest. He told 500 people at the National Prayer Breakfast in Ottawa that Christians must not seek revenge. His alleged killer may have been mentally incapacitated at the time of the killing. He went into a coma shortly after the incident, and now has the intelligence of a young child. His heart appears to have been defective; this could have caused him to behave irrationally.
bullet2001-MAR-5: Santee, CA: Allegedly, Charles Andrew Williams (Andy),15, used a .22 caliber revolver to kill two fellow students, and injured 13 students and adults at Santana High School. The school is in Santee, CA, a suburb of San Diego. One additional student suffered minor injuries in a car accident when he fled from the scene. Jessica Moore, a fellow student, said: "He was picked on all the time, He was picked on because he was one of the scrawniest guys. People called him freak, dork, nerd, stuff like that." Another student, Neil O'Grady, said "He always gets picked on, He's scrawny; he's little." According to the Associated Press: "Classmates and acquaintances of the boy described him as skinny and the subject of constant harassment."
bullet2001-MAR-7: Williamsport, PA: Student Kimberly Marchese, 13, was shot in the right shoulder, allegedly by a fellow 14 year old student. The next day, she was in stable condition in hospital. Unlike essentially all previous school shootings and murders, this one does not appear to be as a result of long-term harassment and marginalization of the perpetrator; it seems to have been caused by a long-standing argument between the two students. Also unlike previous shootings, this was not at a public school; it was at the Bishop Newmann Junior-Senior High School, a parochial school. Williamsport is in central Pennsylvania.

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bullet2002-JAN: A student who had been dismissed from the Appalachian School of Law in Grundy, VA, killed the dean, a professor and a student at the school. He wounded three others.
bullet 2005-MAR-21: Bemidji, MN: Jeff Weise, 16, apparently acted alone when he allegedly shot his grandfather and his grandfather's companion. He allegedly wore his grandfather's bulletproof vest and continued his killing spree at his high school on the Red Lake Indian Reservation near  He allegedly killed an unarmed security guard, teacher Neva Rogers, five fellow students and finally himself. He may have posted messages on a neo-Nazi website expressing admiration for Hitler and calling himself Todesengel (Angel of Death). He had criticized inter-racial mixing and the prevalence of rap music on the reservation.
bullet 2005-NOV-09: Jacksboro, TN: Ken Bartley Jr., aged 15, allegedly brought a gun into the school cafeteria with a .22 caliber handgun. The principal, two assistant principals and a teacher allegedly wrestled the gun away from him. The principal was killed; the two assistant principals were injured, and the student suffered minor injuries. "Students and teachers describe the boy as troubled, and until recently, attended an alternative school." 3
bulletA string of shootings, some of which may have been copycat events occurred in the two weeks following 2006-SEP-27:
bullet 2006-SEP-27: A male drifter took six female high school students hostage in Balley, CO. He molested them, murdered one, and then killed himself as the police attacked.
bullet 2006-SEP-29: A 15 year-old male youth killed his school's principal in western Wisconsin after telling another student "you better run."
bullet 2006-OCT-02: Charles Roberts, 32, heavily armed with automatic gun, rifle, and shotgun, entered a one-room Old Order Amish schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. He ejected the boys and adults, and tied up 15 girls. He shot 10 girls, five of whom died, and then committed suicide. More details. 4
bullet 2006-OCT-09: A 13 year old seventh-grader in Joplin, MO, wore a dark green trench coat and a mask, and carried an assault rifle into his middle school. He fired a shot into the ceiling. His rifle then jammed. His motives were unclear. 5

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Potentially useful resources for students, parents, & educators:

The following information sources' hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

bulletSee our list of Internet web sites which describe how to teach tolerance in schools.
bulletCenter for the Prevention of School Violence has a web site at: http://www2.ncsu.edu/ncsu/cep/PreViolence/
bullet"How kids can put bullies in their place without force or violence," Stay Alert, Stay Safe web site at: http://www.sass.ca/bully.htm
bulletThe Southern Poverty Law Center have two additions to their web site at http://www.splcenter.org: "Responding to hate at school: A guide for teachers, counselors and administrators," and "Ten ways to fight hate: A community response guide.
bulletAlvin Poussaint, "Fears about school violence." Tips on talking to kids about school shootings. See: http://familyeducation.com/article/0,1120,1-600,00.html
bulletKen Trump, "Violent kids: Warning signs," at: http://familyeducation.com/article/0,1120,1-556,00.html
bullet"School violence prevention check list," at: http://familyeducation.com/article/0,1120,1-6471,00.html
bullet"Protecting students from harassment and hate crime: A guide for schools," U.S. Department of Education, at: http://www.ed.gov/pubs/Harassment/
bullet"Keeping schools and communities safe," U.S. Department of Education, at: http://www.ed.gov/offices/OESE/SDFS/safeschools.html
bullet"Research school violence," at: http://olj.usc.edu/hs/violence/incidents.html
bullet"Jonesboro: Were the media fair?," Freedom Forum Online, at: http://www.freedomforum.org/newsstand/reports/jonesboro/ The report is available in either an Adobe Acrobat (PDF) file or a Microsoft Word file. The Acrobat format requires an Adobe Acrobat reader which you can download free.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Christopher Dugan, "Does a lack of paddling cause school shootings?," 2001-APR-04, at: http://www.geocities.com/
  2. "Police: Boy, 13, doesn't know why he shot classmates," CNN,com, at: http://cnn.com/
  3. "One administrator killed, two injured in Campbell Co. school shooting," WATE-TV, 2005-NOV-08, at: http://www.wate.com/
  4. Tim Harper, "Amish school murders," Toronto Star, 2006-OCT-03.
  5. "Seventh-grader fires shot during 'terror' bid at school," Toronto Star, 2006-OCT-10.

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Copyright 1999 to 2006 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 1999-JUN 
Latest update: 2006-OCT-10
Author: B.A. Robinson

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