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Prayers, hugs as students return to scene of shootings

Students embrace
Students embrace and pray with each other after their return to school Tuesday   
May 26, 1998
Web posted at: 12:57 p.m. EDT (1657 GMT)

In this story:

SPRINGFIELD, Oregon (CNN) -- Students at Thurston High School sought comfort in prayer and hugs on Tuesday as they returned to classes in the same building where two classmates were shot dead last week. Fellow student Kip Kinkel, 15, is accused in the shooting spree that also left his parents dead.

For more than an hour before classes resumed after the Memorial Day holiday, students -- many with tears in their eyes -- gathered outside the school. Some formed circles, bowing their heads and clutching hands and as they said prayers. A few sang along with local clergy members who led hymns.

Interview with three students at Thurston High School before returning to classes Tuesday
Video icon VXtreme streaming video (3:30)

Several parents accompanied their children to the school.

Near a chain-link fence that became a makeshift memorial, the names of all 24 people who were hurt in last Thursday's shootings were read aloud

Thousands of roses, daisies, carnations, rhododendrons and lilies cram the fence for more than 200 yards. It was dotted with pictures of Jesus, teddy bears and numerous signs, one with a child's scrawl reading: "I wish there never was a gunshot."

Cafeteria painted, patched

Inside the cafeteria where Kinkel allegedly opened fire, the bullet holes have been patched up and painted over. And students were welcomed back with a free, hot breakfast.

For those who couldn't face going back inside, breakfast was also offered in an adjacent courtyard. "Some students will never feel comfortable going back in," said Randy Harvey, the school's director of personnel.

Counselors were available and classes will be cut short so students can attend the funeral for one of their classmates, 17-year-old Mikael Nickolauson.

Services for another student Ben Walker, 16, were held on Monday.

Injured student 'hero' talks to Larry King

Seventeen-year-old Jake Ryker, one of the 22 students injured in the shootings, was released from the hospital on Monday. He is among five students praised as heroes for tackling and subduing Kinkel to bring the rampage to an end. Ryker, a wrestler, was shot in the chest and hand.

Ryker
Ryker appeared on Larry King Live with his family   

"Doctors said that if I take it easy, I can do pretty much anything I want," Ryker told CNN on Monday night. "I was looking forward to a weight competition, but I think that's kind of out of the question at this point," he said in an interview on "Larry King Live."

Kinkel, a freshman at Thurston, is in custody on four counts of aggravated murder. He's accused of killing his parents in his home before going to the school.

Kinkel's sister, a college student in Hawaii, has returned home, but remains in seclusion. Tom Jacobson, a longtime family friend, says Kristin Kinkel has been handling all the funeral arrangements for her parents.

A memorial service for Bill and Faith Kinkel is scheduled for Friday evening at Springfield High School. No other funeral arrangements have been announced.

Kip Kinkel was on suicide watch at a juvenile detention facility, monitored by closed-circuit television. He is dressed in paper clothes to prevent his hanging himself or causing other injury.

Kinkel allegedly pulled a .22-caliber semiautomatic rifle from underneath his trench coat and fired 51 rounds into the crowded cafeteria. Police also found five sophisticated bombs and 15 other inactive explosive devices in the Kinkel house.

Correspondent Greg LaMotte contributed to this report.

 
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