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Blood stains Oregon high school

An injured student is put in an ambulance

Gunman kills 1 student; 2 more bodies found at his home

May 21, 1998
Web posted at: 6:14 p.m. EDT (2214 GMT)

SPRINGFIELD, Oregon (CNN) -- A 15-year-old male student, Kipland P. Kinkel, allegedly opened fire with a semiautomatic rifle in an Oregon high school cafeteria Thursday morning, killing one student and wounding 23 others.

Based on the boy's statements to police, investigators went to his rural home north of Springfield a short time later and found the bodies of a man and a woman, both shot to death.

A student recounts the shooting
icon 791 K / 36 sec. AIFF or WAV sound
Initial reaction from students and parents at the school
icon 4 minutes, 30 seconds VXtreme video

Police officials had not confirmed what the relationship was between the suspected shooter and those two victims.

Eighteen people wounded at Thurston High School were undergoing treatment at two hospitals in Springfield and nearby Eugene, hospital officials said. Five others were treated and released. Eight victims were reported in critical condition.

The suspect, Kipland P. Kinkel, had been expelled Wednesday after being arrested for bringing a gun to school. District Attorney Doug Harper said he would be charged as an adult on aggravated murder and other charges. He will likely face his first court appearance Friday afternoon, Harper said.

Kip Kinkel

Kinkel was captured after being tackled by another student when he apparently ran out of ammunition in the rifle and reached for a handgun. Police said he had taken three weapons to school, including the .22-caliber rifle, a .22-caliber handgun and a 9 mm semiautomatic Glock pistol.

Mayor: 'We have to ask some tough questions'

The incident marked the fifth fatal shooting at a U.S. school in the last nine months, leaving the western Oregon city of 51,000 in a state of shock.

"I think prayer at the present time is the best recourse that we have. We will get through this, " said Springfield Mayor Bill Morrisette. "This is not a Springfield problem. This is a problem of our society, perhaps throughout the world. We do have to ask ourselves some tough questions."

Stephanie Quimby

"I thought it was fake. I had never heard a gun go off."

Stephanie Quimby, Student

President Clinton called Morrisette to offer his condolences. Speaking at a White House ceremony, Clinton said, "I know that all Americans are heartbroken by the terrible shooting."

"I would just like to say on behalf of the American people that our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the people who were killed and wounded, and with that entire fine community."

Witness: 'It was like a movie'

The shooting happened about 8 a.m. (11 a.m. EDT), when students were gathered at the 1,700-pupil high school for an honors ceremony. Some students later said they initially thought it was a gag when Kinkel entered the cafeteria wearing a cream-colored trench coat and hat and allegedly began firing.

"I thought it was fake. I had never heard a gun go off," said Stephanie Quimby, 16. "It was like a movie and you were there. I felt so calm. I knew it was real when I saw him point the gun at someone and heard a girl yell, 'Tressa.'"

Wrestling coach Gary Bowden said one of his best wrestlers, Jake Ryker, despite being shot himself, tackled Kinkel, got his gun away and held him down.

The scene was described by one witness as "mayhem." Emergency teams called to the scene set up a triage center at the school to treat the wounded.

Kinkel arrested Wednesday but not held

Springfield Police Capt. Jerry Smith said Kinkel was arrested Wednesday on charges of possessing a stolen gun, but was released into the custody of his parents because "there are only so many bodies you can hold in jail at a given time."

Student Robbie Johnson, who said he knew Kinkel, said that on Wednesday, Kinkel "told a couple of people he was probably going to do something stupid today and get back at the people who had expelled him."

"He always said that it would be fun to kill someone and do stuff like that," Johnson said. Other students said Kinkel had once given a talk in speech class on how to build a bomb.

"I think it's pretty early to determine whether he had any particular targets," said Smith. "At this time, we have no evidence of that."

But in the wake of the shooting, Bowden asked the question that many others in Springfield were asking -- "Any kid who takes a gun to school -- why he isn't put under observation for a few weeks is beyond me."

 parents with daughter

After the shooting, traffic jams clogged streets as concerned parents rushed to Thurston High. Weeping parents hovered about outside and expressed disbelief that the suspected shooter was back in the school the day after being arrested on a gun violation.

"He told people he was going to do something," one mother said. "Why they let him out, I can't believe it. Someone should be feeling pretty guilty."


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