On Sept. 1, 2004, terrorists took 1,200 people hostage for three days at a school in Beslan, Russia.
4-24-03, a heavily armed 14-year-old 8th-grade boy, James Sheets, known as Jimmy, shot and killed his popular school principal, Eugene Segro, 51, inside a crowded junior high school cafeteria, then killed himself. He fired at least two shots with a handgun. There were 300 - 400 students in the cafeteria.
Each morning, students are funneled into the auditorium and the cafeteria before the school is locked down, allowing people to enter only through a buzzer system. The school has video surveillance cameras, but no metal detectors, Robinson said.
The shootings happened about 15 minutes before the start of classes at the Red Lion Area Junior High School, in York county, southeast of York, 30 miles south-southeast of Harrisburg in southern Pennsylvania. Mechanicsburg is just west of Harrisburg.
Segro was shot once in the chest and Sheets was shot once in the head.
Sheets walked to within five yards of Principal Eugene Segro, 51, and without provocation shot him once in the chest with what one student called "a really big silver gun."
Sheets used a second handgun to shoot himself once in the head.
Police found 3 loaded handguns -- a .22-caliber revolver, a .44 Magnum and a .357 Magnum. He had taken them to school in his bookbag.
Police searched Sheets' house and took boxes and boxes of possible evidence. He used a key to take the guns came from his stepfather's gun safe. Police removed a computer and boxes of other evidence from Sheets's home. They also interviewed the boy's distraught parents. The parents will probably not face any charges in connection with the guns.
Sheets played wide receiver on the school football team, appeared to have many friends and was reasonably popular. He was described as a good kid by adults and students. "Everyone said he was a nice kid, an average kid," said Red Lion Borough Police Chief Walt Hughes. "He was no problem." "There was no indication that there was any dispute," said Terry Robinson, business manager for the Red Lion school district.
Approximately 875 students from the junior high school were taken to the senior high school and Edgar Moore Elementary School where officials dismissed the schools for the day at at 10 a.m.
On Feb. 2, 2001, the same district was the site of a machete attack on a kindergarten class at North Hopewell Winterstown Elementary School that injured 10 students, 2 teachers and a principal, whose hands were slashed. A Tennessee man William Stankewicz, angry about his divorce and allegations he molested his stepdaughters pleaded guilty to the attack and was sentenced to 132 to 264 years in prison.
4-23-03, 8:30 a.m. An 8th-grade boy was arrested for allegedly targeting 3 Mechanicsburg, Pa. high school students.
Police detained a boy armed with butcher knives and a baseball bat. Staff saw him armed with butcher knives and a baseball bat as he hurled 3 crude bombs at the building in an attempt to empty it, one narrowly missed a window of a room where staff were working. Staff kept him from entering the school. The teen threw gasoline and broken glass at staff to avoid capture, staff cornered him, and he surrendered. School officials held the boy until police arrived and took him into custody. He dropped 2 bags on the lawn.
Students remained in class until about 12:45 p.m. when they were sent home so police could inspect student's backpacks and Explosive Ordnance Detail (EOD), a type of bomb squad from Fort Indiantown Gap in Lebanon County, could examine the the bags left on the front lawn. He had 2 bags of Molotov cocktails, a jug of gasoline and bottles to make more, 2 butcher knives and a baseball bat. One of the bags appeared to contain a radio and notepads. The squad turned the backpack and its contents over to police about 1:45 p.m. after determining no bombs, only bomb-making materials, were inside.
A Molotov cocktail is a glass bottle filled with gasoline and topped with a gasoline-soaked strip of cloth wick. The contents explode when the bottle breaks.
"He was specifically targeting three students he intended to murder," Mechanicsburg said Police Chief David Spotts. "The fire-bomb attack was a diversionary tactic intended to start a fire and force the evacuation of the school."
He was taking classes at the high school at night because he was considered a troubled youth. Students said he has "issues with school" and was on suspension.
Mechanicsburg Police said the student had been having trouble in school, and was subjected to "regular and intense verbal abuse," by other students and that may have motivated his actions.
No one was injured and there was minimal damage to the school building.
The boy, who was not identified, confessed to police and has been placed in a juvenile detention facility. He allegedly told police he planned to kill 3 students and wanted to use the fire as a diversionary tactic. The boy was been charged in juvenile court with attempted homicide, aggravated assault, attempted arson, causing or risking a catastrophe, possession of implements of crime and attempted criminal vandalism. Additional charges may be pending. Spotts said the teen has been placed in a juvenile detention facility. A search of the teen's home uncovered evidence related to the incident. Police would not elaborate. "All indications are that the boy was acting alone, and that no one knew what he was planning to do," Spotts said.
Rumors had been circulating that another student planned an attack at the school on the 21st, a day after the April 20 anniversary of the Columbine shootings in Littleton, Colo., in 1999. The rumors were false. Students said that on Monday there was an issue involving a student with a "hit list."
The story of one of America's first school shooters, a brilliant loner, and what he has become in the 23 years since. It's also a story of what we have become.
The Jonesboro shootings A year later -- How the community has coped and changed since shots rang out as schoolchildren and teachers gathered outside Jonesboro's Westside Middle School after a fire alarm went off Tuesday, March 24,1998. Four girls and a teacher died. Two boys, one 13 years old and the other 11, are accused in the killings.
Jonesboro Arkansas Boys Held as Prosecutors Weigh Options -- Mitchell Johnson, 13, and his cousin, Andrew Golden, 11, were being held in juvenile detention at the Craighead County, AK, jail, facing murder charges after bullets fired outside a middle school on Tuesday killed four girls and one teacher, wounded 10 other people and plunged this small city into despair. The ages of the two suspects could result in sentences of just a few years in juvenile detention. Just before a judge remanded 14-year-old Mitchell Johnson and 12-year-old Andrew Golden into juvenile detention for a school shooting spree that killed a teacher and four little girls, the older boy offered a courtroom filled with their relatives a childlike excuse. He said he did not mean to do it. "I thought we were going to shoot over their heads," said the quavering, trembling Mitchell, who pleaded guilty in an adjudication hearing -- the juvenile court equivalent of a trial -- in the Craighead County Courthouse Tuesday. "We didn't think anybody was going to get hurt."
The youth homicides in rural schools puzzles psychologists -- Homicidal youth violence has moved from America’s inner-city neighborhoods to rural and suburban areas. James Garbarino, Ph.D., Cornell University professor, characterizes the outbreak of bizarre, fatal shootings. 'What typically happens with epidemics is they first take hold in the most vulnerable parts of the population, and then move out to the more general population.' Garbarino is interviewing boys jailed for murder and other violent acts. 'It’s quite possible that this surge of school-based shootings in small towns, in rural and suburban areas, is a kind of second stage of epidemic violence among our youth,' he says.
Recent shootings aroused concerns about school safety and gun control, fears that were still very real for many Americans a year later. Just before the 1 year anniversary of the Columbine shooting, a Wall Street Journal NBC News poll found that 70% of Americans believed such a shooting could occur at a school in their own community.
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