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Police: Teen in school shooting stole guns from home



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May 21, 1999
Web posted at: 10:26 a.m. EDT (1426 GMT)


In this story:

Interviews, searches

'I said, 'Give me the gun. Give me the gun'

Wounded students

RELATED STORIES, SITES icon



CONYERS, Georgia (CNN) -- Authorities believe the 15-year-old boy accused of shooting six classmates at Heritage High School in suburban Atlanta acted alone, using weapons he stole from a locked gun cabinet in his home.

Rockdale County Sheriff Jeff Wigington told CNN that the teen apparently broke into the cabinet and took a .357 revolver and .22-caliber rifle. "From all indications they were locked up, as they should have been," Wigington said on Friday.

The sheriff said investigators believe the suspect concealed the rifle in a pant leg of the baggy blue jeans he was wearing, and carried the handgun in a book bag while riding the bus to school Thursday.

The youth, a sophomore at Heritage High, was being held in a juvenile facility. Authorities said they would seek permission to charge him as an adult.

He had been expected to appear in court Monday, but his attorney told CNN Friday no date has been set yet for his appearance.

Interviews, searches

Wigington said about 250 people had been interviewed after Thursday morning's shootings, in Conyers, Georgia, but that there was no sign anyone else was involved.

Authorities planned to search Heritage High School again, to look for explosives and make sure there is nothing out of place in classrooms.

A search on Thursday turned up no explosive devices, but bomb squads detonated two suspicious items that turned out not to be of any threat.

Police, armed with a search warrant, Thursday removed a computer, at least two rifles and bags full of other items from the boy's home in a quiet, affluent neighborhood. They also searched his school locker.

16-year-old Glen Ganyard III, a friend of the suspect, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the youth had recently received a handgun as a gift from his parents, but they took it away when they learned he was carrying the gun around.

"He said he knew where it was hidden," Ganyard told the newspaper.

'I said, 'Give me the gun. Give me the gun'

Brinkley
Brinkley disarmed the shooter by asking him to hand over his gun  

Shortly before classes were to start for the day, the gunman wounded six students in a break area near the school cafeteria known as The Commons, then fled outdoors. He dropped the rifle but still had the handgun.

Dropping to his knees, he pulled out the revolver and stuck it in his mouth. But before he could shoot, Assistant Principal Cecil Brinkley talked him into surrendering the weapon.

"I said, 'Give me the gun, give me the gun,' and he had the pistol pointed at me... (and) I backed away about two or three feet," Brinkley told CNN affiliate WXIA-TV.

"Then," Brinkley continued, "I approached him again. I said, 'Give me the gun. Give me the gun,' and he lowered the barrel of the gun ... and then I got close enough to him. I held my hand out. I said, 'Hand me the gun. Hand me the gun.' He reached (out) and handed it over to me and I held it down beside me and just as I did that, he gave me a real bear hug and said, 'I'm scared.'"

The suspect broke down sobbing and was arrested.

Authorities described him on Thursday as being agitated and scared, with his parents "in shock."

The family moved two years ago to Conyers, an east Atlanta suburb, from Kernersville, North Carolina. The boy's mother works as a secretary for a veterinarian. His stepfather is a trucking executive.

Students generally described the gunman as quiet, with few friends, but a regular participant in youth services in a Roman Catholic Church. Several said his grades had slipped lately, and he had been heard making ambiguous comments about shooting someone.

Several students said he was distraught over his recent breakup with a longtime girlfriend, who wasn't involved in Thursday's shootings.

Wounded students

Shaquita Usher
Student Shaquita Usher says classmate Jason Cheek is a hero. A gunshot victim himself, Jason comforted wounded student Cania Collins
icon 498K/32 sec. AIFF or WAV sound
 

Of the six wounded students -- four boys and two girls -- four remained hospitalized on Friday morning, although some of them were expected to be released during the day.

Stephanie Laster, 15, hit in buttocks by a bullet that passed through to her intestines, underwent surgery. She was listed in fair condition and was expected to remain at an Atlanta hospital for several days.

The gunman was charged as a juvenile with aggravated assault. The youth must appear in juvenile court before he can be charged as an adult, something not expected before Monday, said Rockland County District Attorney Richard Read.

The prosecutor said he will seek a Superior Court judge's permission to prosecute the youth as an adult on charges of aggravated assault, cruelty to children and weapons violations.

Classes at Heritage High were canceled for Friday, though students were expected to return to the school on Monday.

School officials said graduation would go on as scheduled May 28.

Superintendent Donald Peccia said all schools should adopt policies aimed at heading off student violence.

"What you do to prevent this is what you try to do every day," he told CNN. "You talk to parents and students about responsibilities and consequences of actions. Teachers and administrators (at Heritage) constantly work and try to get to know their kids."

Heritage High has no metal detectors but does employ a campus policeman, and some areas of the school are equipped with surveillance cameras.



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May 20, 1999
Senate juvenile crime bill in trouble
May 17, 1999
The truth about gun shows
May 14, 1999

RELATED SITES:
Heritage High School Home Page
Rockdale County Public Schools
Conyers Online
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