An epidemic of violence
Incidents in schools rise sharply since Santee shooting
SANTEE, California (CNN) -- Three days after a deadly school shooting in Southern California, authorities across the nation looked for answers in a spate of serious school incidents, including a pair of Californian teens with an apparent "hit list."
The violence and potential for it has authorities, parents and children searching for answers.
"At this time, there is no motive," said Bob Conner, a spokesman for the King County Sheriff's office in Seattle, Washington, where earlier this week a 16-year-old student allegedly pulled a gun in class and ordered students to leave.
Conner's words echoed those of San Diego County officials after Monday's deadly shooting at Santana High School in Santee, a San Diego suburb. Two people were killed and 13 others wounded from the shootings.
"We have established no real motive for the shooting, except people indicate that the suspect was mad, and we don't know if he was mad for any particular reason," said Lt. Jerry Lewis San Diego County Sheriff's Department.
Classmates said Charles Andrew Williams, the Santee shootings suspect, was picked on and teased in class, but other friends said the boy was well-liked and funny.
Police arrested Williams minutes after he allegedly fired off more than 30 shots.
Williams, now charged with murder and held without bond until his arraignment on March 26, had reportedly joked over the weekend about staging a shooting at the school. But none of the fellow students or one adult who heard the apparent threats took him at face value.
Williams' family, too, was uneasy and baffled by the teen-ager's apparent actions.
"We understand that the general public wants answers to how and why a thing like this could have happened at the hands of what everyone reports to be a well-mannered, good kid," the suspect's father, Charles Jeffrey Williams, said in a statement. "The family, too, joins the public in this need for answers."
Education Secretary Rod Paige said Thursday the issue of schoolchildren and firearms goes "beyond metal detectors" and underscores the need to focus on children.
"There are not enough police or metal detectors in the world to solve this," Paige said in an interview with CNN. "That is the point we are trying to make now. We need to deal with more relationships."
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Monday's shooting was not the first such attack at a school but it was the deadliest since an April 1999 shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, left 15 people, including two teen-aged gunmen, dead.
Dr. Michael Sise, a trauma physician at Santee's Scripps Mercy Hospital, where several of the Santana victims were treated, said Monday's shooting was indicative of a "culture of violence" in which the access to weapons by "troubled teens" leads quickly to "deadly consequences."
In the wake of Monday's shooting, headlines across the nation appeared to support Sise. In California alone, 16 students have been detained since Tuesday for threats made on students or teachers or for carrying weapons to school.
In Washington state, a 16-year-old student allegedly pulled out a gun in class Wednesday at Kentwood High School in the Seattle suburb of Covington and ordered students to leave, authorities said. The boy surrendered without incident after about 15 minutes. No one was injured.
Two 17-year-old students in Twentynine Palms, California, were arrested Tuesday on charges of conspiracy to commit murder after authorities found a "hit list" of 16 students in one of their homes and a rifle in another.
The two were taken into custody after a girl overheard the two suspects talking about the list, and she told her father, who notified authorities, said San Bernardino County Sheriff spokesman Chip Patterson.
The two suspects were also booked on charges of interfering with civil rights "due to the fact that there was a possibility of racial overtones," according to Patterson.
A 15-year-old Perris, California, high school student was detained Wednesday after boasting that he could outdo the Columbine High School massacre.
In Savannah, Georgia, authorities said a sixth-grader was arrested on Wednesday for allegedly trying to bring a BB gun onto campus. No shots were fired and no one was injured.
A parent and a school crossing guard spotted the 14-year-old allegedly carrying the gun and reported it. Coastal Middle School Principal Alfred Howard confronted the boy, who dropped the weapon and ran.
The boy, now facing felony charges of bringing a weapon to school, was later caught and the gun was found, apparently unloaded.
"It's a prime example of the community helping the school and preventing what could have been an alarming situation," Howard told the Savannah Morning News.
'Bloodbath' threatened by 8-year-old
In Williamsport, Pennsylvania, authorities said a teen-age girl fired a single shot Wednesday at another student in the cafeteria, hitting her in her shoulder. The 14-year-old has been charged with attempted homicide.
Other students at Bishop Neumann Junior and Senior High School barricaded themselves in classrooms until police took the suspect away.
In southwest Philadelphia, police arrested a 12-year-old student at Thomas Morton Elementary school, charging him with possession of a .22-caliber pistol.
Another Philadelphia student, this one an 8-year-old at Henry C. Lea School, allegedly threatened a "bloodbath" with a loaded shotgun on Monday before he was taken into custody.
A 15-year-old Camden, New Jersey, honor student was arrested for allegedly threatening to shoot members of a clique on Tuesday.
Texas teen had hit list
In Bradenton, Florida, Bayshore High School sophomore Philip M. Bryant, 17, was suspended from school after being charged Wednesday with carrying a loaded semiautomatic handgun to school.
Twenty miles away in St. Petersburg, John Wayne Morrison, 17, was charged with carrying a revolver with a sawed off barrel at Meadowlawn Middle School, his former school.
In Davenport, Iowa, a 15-year-old Assumption High School student was arrested Wednesday and ordered to undergo psychiatric evaluation after he threatened to get a gun and shoot everyone in school.
A Harlingen, Texas, a high school freshman was expelled after he was caught with a hit list of his own.
In Arizona, three students were arrested Wednesday: an eighth-grader was accused of threatening to bring a gun to school to shoot sixth-graders; a 13-year-old was arrested after allegedly threatened to shoot classmates who teased him; and a 13-year-old-girl was arrested after a bomb threat was left on an answering machine Tuesday night.
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