FORT GIBSON, Okla. (AP) -- A seventh-grader walked up to a crowd of youngsters
waiting for the morning bell Monday and opened fire with a gun, wounding four
schoolmates before a science teacher pinned him against a wall, witnesses said.
None of the injuries appeared to be life-threatening. A fifth youngster
suffered bumps and bruises.
"He doesn't even know who it was he shot," sheriff's Deputy Terry Cragg said.
"There was not a hate thing. I asked him why. He said, `I don't know."'
The 13-year-old dropped the emptied, 9mm semiautomatic handgun as he was
approached by science teacher Ronnie Holuby, who also serves as the safety
officer at Fort Gibson Middle School, Superintendent Steve Wilmoth said. Holuby
grabbed the boy's arms and pinned him against a brick wall.
The small, slender boy was taken to court for a closed, 15-minute detention
hearing, walking solemnly between two deputies and keeping his head down.
Authorities and the boy's attorney wouldn't release his name because of his age
and because charges had not been filed by prosecutors. But schoolmates,
including 13-year-olds Max Chrisman and Shaila Benjamin, identified the boy as
Max said the boy "looked just like he always did. He didn't look any different.
He pulled out a gun and just started shooting."
Shaila said he began to shoot over their heads and she ducked inside the
building. "He was a straight-A student. He used to ride my bus. He was quite
Authorities said they were not aware of any previous trouble involving the boy
and did not know who owned the gun. The youngster belonged to a teen Christian
group and other school organizations, students said.
"He seemed like a really nice person," said Justine Hurst, a 13-year-old
eighth-grader. "He had a lot of friends."
Kanjowah Bowley, another eighth-grader, said: "Some people say he's crazy, but
he's really not. He comes from a really good family."
Students had gathered outside the middle school and were waiting to enter for
the start of classes when the boy walked up at around 7:45 a.m., put his
backpack down and started shooting, witnesses said.
"He did not say anything or make any accusations," said parent Richard
Schindel, who repeated what his son told authorities. "All the kids started
running. ... It was only at that time my son realized he had been shot when one
of his friends told him he had been shot. He looked down and saw the blood
dripping from both his hands."
His son, Brad, was in fair condition with bullet wounds in his arms.
School officials, given safety training following the Columbine High School
massacre, rushed the students to the safety of the cafeteria.
Some students thought the popping came from fireworks left from a state high
school football championship game that Fort Gibson lost 46-0 Saturday.
"We heard one girl screaming. We saw smoke coming from the cement,"
eighth-grader Greg Pruitt said.
The wounded students were taken to hospitals in nearby Muskogee and Tulsa.
A 12-year-old girl was in fair condition with a cheek wound, a 13-year-old was
treated for a wound to his forearm and another 13-year-old underwent surgery
for a leg wound.
Wilmoth described Fort Gibson as "a close-knit, very religious community." The
blue-collar town of about 3,500 is about 50 miles southeast of Tulsa. About 450
students attend the middle school.
Police obtained search warrants to search school lockers. All of the district's
1,850 students were sent home for the day.
Gov. Frank Keating issued a statement saying the shooting "must serve as a call
to arms" to address "the root causes of what is happening to our families and
President Clinton told reporters in Washington that investigators from the FBI
and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms were on the scene.
"Our prayers are with each of the children and their families," Clinton said.