Join 3,424 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Everybody Run!!!
April 24, 2003 1:02 PM   Subscribe

Student kills principal, self at school. "A heavily armed 14-year-old boy shot and killed his school principal inside a crowded junior high cafeteria Thursday morning, then killed himself, authorities said. " I'm finding nothing else about this other than the AP story. I'm curious what they mean by "heavily armed."
posted by archimago (42 comments total)

 
At school, any number of firearms above zero should be more than enough.
posted by sageleaf at 1:09 PM on April 24, 2003


He just has really big fat arms. It's freaky!
posted by Outlawyr at 1:12 PM on April 24, 2003


I'm finding nothing else about this other than the AP story

It all over Google News in the U.S. news section.
posted by cowboy at 1:16 PM on April 24, 2003


nothing I can see on bbc.

If you had big hands, you could kill both of them, you know, if you caught them in that little kitchen area...
posted by twine42 at 1:17 PM on April 24, 2003


I'm finding nothing else about this other than the AP story. I'm curious what they mean by "heavily armed."

The Google News front page currently includes this, with links to over 200 reports--many of which are not from AP. The story linked from the front page of CNN, also not from AP, quotes the police chief as saying the shooter had "several handguns."

Not that I'm suggesting this is a NewsFilter post or anything, because that would be wrong.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:22 PM on April 24, 2003


Police and Red Lion Area Superintendent Larry Macaluso declined to name the teenager, but said he was not known for disciplinary problems.

Why... the little brat is dead. What does it matter now?
posted by Witty at 1:22 PM on April 24, 2003


Because just maybe his parents would like to salvage what is left of their family.
posted by ilsa at 1:28 PM on April 24, 2003


From the picture I saw, it appears to be a case of Nerd With Low Self-Esteem Goes Apeshit.

Kids today are too freaking sensitive. We all grew up surrounded by violence on TV, and so did our parents. I was a gothy geek with access to artillery, but you didn't see me going all nutty fruitcakes.

I could be simplifying this poor child's plight. But I doubt it.
posted by padraigin at 1:28 PM on April 24, 2003


Why... the little brat is dead. What does it matter now?

well, his name was apparently James Sheets, so I guess someone decided it doesn't matter now, after all...

what picture?
posted by mdn at 1:39 PM on April 24, 2003


ilsa: But he's (was) a criminal. We'll find out eventually.

on preview: I see.
posted by Witty at 1:49 PM on April 24, 2003


this picture

I don't know how to do inline images, and figure it's better that way.
posted by padraigin at 1:50 PM on April 24, 2003


> I'm curious what they mean by "heavily armed."

From the CNN story:

The student was armed with several handguns, said Hughes, who did not identify the boy.

The handguns were not automatic weapons and it appears they were brought to the school in the student's book bag, he said.

York County Coroner Barry Bloss said the principal and student had one bullet wound each. The principal was shot with a.44 caliber handgun, and the student died from a .22 caliber handgun, he said.

posted by scottq at 1:59 PM on April 24, 2003


Yeah Witty, true. But if he were my kid I would rather not get this particular news from CNN.

This is of course a terrible thing, and I hope the innocent young people who witnessed this are given adequate assistance to cope.
posted by ilsa at 1:59 PM on April 24, 2003


From my cold, dead hands.


posted by The Jesse Helms at 2:01 PM on April 24, 2003


From the picture I saw, it appears to be a case of Nerd With Low Self-Esteem Goes Apeshit.

The irony is palpable. The fact that you could judge him based on his picture is quite possibly part of the problem. If the world is so quick to judge someone as "Nerd", is it any wonder that some of these kids go "apeshit"?
posted by jpoulos at 2:02 PM on April 24, 2003


There was no irony whatsoever in my statement. As I said, I was a nerd. I know my fellows when I see them.
posted by padraigin at 2:07 PM on April 24, 2003


The NRA sure did blow this one. THOSE BASTARDS!
posted by Witty at 2:08 PM on April 24, 2003


Why... the little brat is dead. What does it matter now?


He was a brat? I didn't see that in any of the stories. Shouldn't you have said:

The little murderer is dead.
The little criminal (the ultimate meaningless term) is dead.
The little militant is dead.
The little student with deep seated issues is dead.
The little "Nerd With Low Self-Esteem Goes Apeshit" is dead.

Any of those might actually find a foundation in truth and fact. Perhaps in your world its just more fun to insult the dead than to deal with the issues of why. That I find ... repugnant.
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:09 PM on April 24, 2003


Ahh, I remember the days when "revenge of the nerds" meant spy cams in the girls' bathroom and raging parties. Where oh where have you gone?
posted by Hackworth at 2:09 PM on April 24, 2003


I'm not brushing off the issues at all. I wish I could snap my fingers and have it all figured out. But he is, in fact, a dead brat; old enough to know the difference between right and wrong. I find his behavior repugnant. So I'm not going to feel sorry for him or offer him any of my sympathy. I feel sorry for everyone ELSE, however.
posted by Witty at 2:20 PM on April 24, 2003


Are you being ironic again Witty? Only it's kinda hard to tell...
posted by inpHilltr8r at 2:30 PM on April 24, 2003


.
posted by hippugeek at 2:35 PM on April 24, 2003


How did this happen? I thought we had laws against this type of thing?
posted by Durwood at 2:38 PM on April 24, 2003


I work just a few miles away from where the shooting occurred and I was pretty shocked when I woke up and turned on the news. It was hard not to feel a little sick to my stomach as I drove to work and passed all the cars with parents bringing their children home from school early.

I don't really have any direct connection to the tragedy beyond casually knowing one of the students who was at the school at the time of the shooting (he was in good enough spirits to wave at me when he saw me pulling in to work), but I knew enough to have known the shooter's name long before it was released to the public.

I also know from visiting the local convenience store over my lunchbreak some of the unsubstantiated rumors floating around was that he had been talking about doing this for at least a day, and that this morning he'd shown the guns to his friends who were sitting at his table in the cafeteria, but they didn't say anything for fear he'd kill them. There was also some discussion that the real target may have been the assistant principal. Of course, this is all speculation.

BTW, I'd hardly call the kid a nerd based on an awkward photo. As a rule, it's always been my experience that no one looks good in their junior high yearbook photos. He participated in school athletics (football team) and seemed like a quiet, good kid until this morning.

The best coverage I've seen so far has been through local outlets like WGAL TV-8 and the York Daily Record.
posted by MegoSteve at 2:44 PM on April 24, 2003


Perhaps he simply didn't like Thursdays.
posted by padraigin at 2:44 PM on April 24, 2003


MegaSteve, Thank You! That comment was the best thing I've read in a NewsFilter post in a long time. Distributed reporting is one of the great things that MeFi does well, and you just shined.

(Yeah, its a rah-rah comment. Get over it already.)
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:57 PM on April 24, 2003


He participated in school athletics (football team)
aha! taught to value winning no mastter the cost!
posted by quonsar at 3:04 PM on April 24, 2003


i have never won over typing.
posted by quonsar at 3:04 PM on April 24, 2003


Is it really necessary to rip on the dead without know any of the details? I mean, he might have been a brat, or a nerd with self-esteem issues, but for all you know he might have just developed acute early-onset schizophrenia or something.

At least wait until someone comes up with a motive.
posted by Mitrovarr at 3:24 PM on April 24, 2003


Can someone please explain why Madonna and
Ebert have more comments than this. I am baffled by the fascination with celebrity. Thanks for any help
posted by larry_darrell at 4:03 PM on April 24, 2003


Co-payment for hospital visit, shoot yourself in the foot: $50

50 pounds of deer meet: $500

14 year old with guns to kill his principal: priceless
posted by billsaysthis at 4:09 PM on April 24, 2003


Who knows, maybe he thought he would shock and awe his school.
posted by joemeek at 4:51 PM on April 24, 2003


.
posted by VulcanMike at 5:01 PM on April 24, 2003


Can someone please explain why Madonna and
Ebert have more comments than this.


I dunno, maybe because there's more to discuss there than there is here? We don't know enough details so all we'd be doing is speculating about reasons or condemning the kid or wondering if he's mentally ill and then getting into yet another pointless argument about whether or not mental illness is a valid defense and that sort of thing. I notice that your only comment has been this one, which isn't discussing the post itself. Do you have an interesting take on this? Do you have something to discuss about it? If not, why would you think that anyone else would?

In general, I see comments like this as no different from the "is this something you'd need to watch TV to know about? Because I don't watch TV" sort of comment. The number of comments something has reflects nothing more than how much people felt like discussing it and/or how much there actually was to discuss in the first place, it says nothing whatsoever about how "important" it is in the grand scheme of things.
posted by biscotti at 5:05 PM on April 24, 2003


We may be able know, we may never be able to know why this kid decided to shoot his principal. Evidence is needed, diaries/notes/facts that can help us understand
what went wrong.

But correct me if you think I'm wrong (by pointing out why, and not only by saying that you think I'm wrong) that there seems to be an increasing public favour for simple explanations of problems that are evidently complex.

Simplicistics explanations that are used to settle the issue in a snap, like for instance Witty's remarks:

Why... the little brat is dead. What does it matter now?

ilsa: But he's (was) a criminal. We'll find out eventually.


But he is, in fact, a dead brat; old enough to know the difference between right and wrong. I find his behavior repugnant. So I'm not going to feel sorry for him or offer him any of my sympathy. I feel sorry for everyone ELSE, however

While obviously I respect his opinion because I consider anybody opinion relevant, unless otherwise proved, It seems to me he/she is dismissing the problem as an annoyance, by stating with absolute confidence that the kid was a criminal (but did he have some criminal records, and if he does, how does Witty know?) and by suggesting that, given that the kid is dead, the death of the kid is no longer a problem. What if he was your kid, what if you were the victim ?

I consider this kind of evaluation of the problem incredibly superficial , borderline flamebait.

Maybe that's the kind of evaluation the kid received...superficial ? It seems to me the whole society is moving faster and faster, with much less attention to details that may matter, like for instance how insane his to let a kid have access to guns.
posted by elpapacito at 6:42 PM on April 24, 2003


Great comment, elpapacito. This is something I've been thinking about recently (brought about by the war, actually, and the simple explanations for complex events that that inspired). I wonder if some of it is the "sound bite" mentality to some extent, although people seem to be less interested in the facts (kid shoots principal, then self) than they are in a very brief, pat explanation for the facts, regardless of how inaccurate or supremely superficial. Very few things are black and white when their entire scope is considered, insisting that they are seems delusional to me, especially when we're talking about humans and their behaviour. I also wonder if the commonality of such superficial labelling-for-convenience is a part of where tragedies like this come from - I agree with your comment about superficial evaluations, and I also wonder if that sort of thing on a bigger scale leads to feelings of alienation which can in turn lead to some very dark places.
posted by biscotti at 11:07 PM on April 24, 2003


Every time I see something like this, I can't help but think of Bowling for Columbine. Yeah, for all of it's controversy, probably the most lucid moment for me was when Moore was interviewing Marilyn Manson and when asked what he (Manson) would say to the shooters of the Columbine tragedy, Manson replied:

"I wouldn't say anything, I would listen."

I, possibly in my (typical MeFi-mindedness) found that a great fucking statement. I will never forget that. Never.

In a perfect world, everyone would be made to feel important.

And I second hippugeek's and VulcanMike's sentiments...

...
posted by Ufez Jones at 11:49 PM on April 24, 2003


Look... I'm just as baffled and confused as anyone on why this type of thing happens. But at the same time, I'm not going posthumously pat the little fella on the abck and tell him "it's ok". What he did was a crime; that makes him a criminal.

The issue may be complex, but that doesn't excuse what the kid did. There are millions of people out there with the same problems this kid had, but we don't see the same results. This may be a growing phenomenon, but it's hardly an epidemic. What this kid did was a selfish act.

You ask me, "what if you were that kid's father?" I say, "What if that prinicipal was my dad".

I'd like to know how he got those guns too. And if they find out that it was from his father, or friend's father, etc... then they need to slap that person in jail. I don't have a problem with guns, but I do have a problem with irresponsible gun ownership.
posted by Witty at 10:24 AM on April 25, 2003


There are millions of people out there with the same problems this kid had, but we don't see the same results.

Proving elpapacito's point. I don't mean to get into a "we are all special snowflakes" mode here, but anyone who had the exact same set of problems as this kid, including his pre-existing tendencies, mental state and weaknesses, would, in all likelihood, produce the same results. Simply because two people may have the same objectively observable problems (poverty, abusive parents, whatever) doesn't mean that they have the same subjective problems, which you cannot see, like early-stage schizophrenia, depression, etc.

The issue may be complex, but that doesn't excuse what the kid did.

This is a common misconception, confusing "explain" with "excuse". The point isn't to excuse, it's to explain. Looking for the whole set of reasons behind what happened can possibly help prevent its happening again with another kid. How can looking for understanding be a bad thing? It seems dumb to just write off the whole host of reasons for why this kid did what he did under the guise of "oh well, he's a criminal now, so it doesn't matter". At very least, it can help us understand what kind of mindset and situational factors contribute to things like this.
posted by biscotti at 10:43 AM on April 25, 2003


And if they find out that it was from his father, or friend's father, etc...

The guns Sheets allegedly used in the shootings belonged to his stepfather, police said. Sheets had used a key to remove them from a safe at his house, police said.

Witty from the article.
posted by thomcatspike at 11:21 AM on April 25, 2003


Missed that Thom... thanks. Stepdad needs to be punished. He must accept responsibility for the part he played in this. What's the point of locking it up if little Billy can find the key? He needs to go to jail and pay a hefty fine.

Biscotti: I guess I'm just not making myself as clear as I would like. I can admit to being kind of hardlined (for lack of a better word at the moment) on this issue... in the sense that part of me wants to strangle the little punk and say, "what the fuck are you thinking". But I don't want anyone to think that I don't feel just as sorry that this happened as anyone else. It's terrible... it's really really horrible.

While I certainly believe there are complex issues at work here (so complex that understanding it all may not really do much to help in possible future events), I think there is definitely a little bit of "copy catting" at play here as well. That's the part where the above-mentioned strangling comes in.
posted by Witty at 11:37 AM on April 25, 2003


The principal was shot with a.44 caliber handgun, and the student died from a .22 caliber handgun, he said.

It is extremely stupid to kill yourself with a .22 caliber handgun. IMHO, that's worse than killing yourself with asprin. You want sudden death, not slow painful death. So why didn't he use the .44 on himself? It's cartoonish in a way, using a big gun on a big person and small gun on a small person.

As for how these things happen, I think everyone needs to realize that high school is not reality. It's an artificial social construct, which is completely unnatural, meaning it is opposed to natural human life. I'm amazed high school kids aren't killing themselves in groups.
posted by son_of_minya at 9:55 AM on April 26, 2003


« Older MovableType,...  |  I thought this had to be a jok... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments