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Accused Oregon school shooter shows no emotion in court

Kipland Kinkel
Kinkel is led away after his appearance at the Lane County Courthouse  

House search turns up 5 bombs

In this story:

May 22, 1998
Web posted at: 10:21 p.m. EDT (0221 GMT)

SPRINGFIELD, Oregon (CNN) -- Softly answering a judge's questions and betraying no emotion, 15-year-old Kipland Kinkel made his first court appearance Friday afternoon, where he was charged with four counts of aggravated murder.

Kinkel is accused of killing his parents, William and Faith Kinkel, at their home and then methodically emptying 51 rounds from a semiautomatic rifle and a handgun at classmates Thursday morning at Thurston High School.

Two students died, including one who was taken off life support Friday. Another 22 were injured. Nine of the wounded students remained hospitalized Friday evening, two in critical condition.

A search of the Kinkel home, in a rural area north of Springfield, turned up two "sophisticated" homemade bombs hidden in a crawl space, and two smaller "crude pipe-bomb-type devices," said Lane County Sheriff Jan Clements.

The search had to be stopped Friday afternoon when a fifth bomb was found, Clements said. At that point, only one of the bodies of the Kinkel parents had been removed. Police were forced to leave the other in the house until the bomb could be disarmed.

Fifteen nearby homes were evacuated because the bombs were powerful enough to cause damage a quarter of a mile away, Clements said.

The Kinkel house
The Kinkel house  

Investigators also found an undetermined number of smaller explosive devices in a drawer in Kipland Kinkel's bedroom, as well as a hand grenade, casings to two howitzer shells, and fireworks and chemicals that could be used to make destructive devices.

Teen goes to court in shackles

Handcuffed, shackled and wearing a University of Oregon sweatshirt over a bulletproof vest, Kinkel was led into the Lane County Courthouse in nearby Eugene for the hearing, which lasted just four minutes. The high-school freshman did not respond to reporters' questions shouted at him as he passed through a walkway going into the courthouse.

As he stood, the judge asked him if his name was Kipland Kinkel and if it was spelled properly on court documents. He answered "yes" to both questions but said nothing else. His next court date was set for June 16.

Kinkel was charged as an adult, but, under Oregon law, he is too young to face the death penalty.

On Friday, Ben Walker, 16, who was shot in the head at the school, was taken off life support at McKenzie-Willamette Hospital. His family donated his organs, a hospital official said.

Mikael Nickolauson, 17, died Thursday at the school.

Kinkel's parents were both Spanish teachers. Faith Kinkel, 57, taught at nearby Springfield High School. William Kinkel, 60, taught part-time at Lane Community College. He was semi-retired and had taught previously at Thurston High.

All day Friday, students, parents and members of the Springfield community made a solemn pilgrimage to Thurston High, where they left flowers, messages and mementos along a fence that has become a makeshift shrine. Blue ribbons were tied around trees and lampposts all around the community.

School officials made counselors available to help those dealing with the tragedy.

'He had to take his chance'

Witnesses have said that Kinkel's shooting spree stopped when he was subdued by several classmates. On Friday, the family of , 17, who is credited with tackling Kinkel and wrestling a gun out of his hand, held a news conference. Ryker was shot in the chest and hand and is still in serious condition.

His younger brother, Josh, 14, who was also in the Thurston cafeteria Thursday, said after being shot, his brother pulled his leg loose from the picnic-type table where he had been sitting, lunged over the top of the table and began wrestling with Kinkel.

At that point, Josh Ryker and two other students joined in, as Kinkel put up a fight and then asked them to shoot him.

"Jake just said to me, 'Mom, I knew that I'd been shot. If I got shot again, I just felt that was OK,'" said his mother, Linda Ryker. "He knew he had to take his chance to try to take the person down."

She said her son told her that he jumped Kinkel at the point when he saw that the semiautomatic rifle he had been using was empty and Kinkel had pulled out a 9-millimeter handgun. Police say that in all, Kinkel had three guns and a backpack loaded with ammunition clips and loose ammunition.

"Jacob took his left hand and put it over the gun and was wrestling with him," she said. "Jake said it was pointed toward his face, and he just shoved as hard as he could and ripped the gun out of the guy's hand."

"And that's when it went off," wounding him in the hand, she said.

Mother says firearms training helped sons

Linda Ryker also credited her sons' familiarity with firearms for helping them deal with the crisis. Her husband, Robert, a Navy diver, wore a National Rifle Association hat during the press conference.

"They know how to respect a gun, and I think all of that did lead to the fact that my boys did not panic when they saw them, and they tried to assist and help," she said.

"We just did what we were taught," Josh Ryker said.

Robert Ryker said despite the shootings in Springfield, he doesn't think any new laws are needed to regulate guns.

"It's already illegal for a kid to have those in school," he said. "Passing any more laws -- what's the difference? He's already [broken] those. What's to stop a person from breaking any new laws you pass?"

On Wednesday, the day before the shooting, Kinkel had been suspended from school and arrested after being caught with a stolen gun on campus. He was released into the custody of his parents.

Correspondent Martin Savidge and Reuters contributed to this report.

 
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