High School Where Gunman Wounded 4 Reopens With Heightened Security

Tuesday, October 16th 2007, 8:06 am
By: News On 6

CLEVELAND (AP) _ Students were greeted with supportive cheers and applause Tuesday morning as they returned to a high school which had been closed since a classmate shot four people then killed himself last week.

Outside the entrance of SuccessTech Academy, community leaders and civic organizations formed a human pathway as students and teachers entered the school. Inside, additional security measures including an armed security guard and a new metal detector were in effect.

The student gunman, Asa Coon, opened fire last Wednesday. The shooting victims _ two students and two teachers _ survived.

Coon was holding two revolvers and wearing an angry look when he burst into class, wounded teacher Michael Grassie recalled. ``Now what have you got to say to me?'' the teenager asked him. Coon waived off a student and shot Grassie, the teacher said.

``I remember the expression on Asa's face,'' Grassie said Monday. ``Anger, total anger. Real hatred. It's something I haven't seen on a 14-year-old's face before.''

Grassie, 42, sat in a wheelchair at a hospital before being discharged and recounted the rampage. He was shot in the abdomen by Coon, who also wounded another teacher and two students at the school, which stresses technology and entrepreneurship for high-achieving students.

Grassie said Coon was doing poorly in his world history class and risked failing. ``I know that made him really mad,'' he said.

He said he had called Coon's home because Coon was talking in class, but the teacher was unable to reach the boy's mother. The father lives out-of-state, police said.

The teacher said Coon had tried to pick a fight with him a week before the shooting. ``He tried to goad me,'' said Grassie, who had no explanation for why Coon might try to pick a fight.

When Coon entered his classroom, Grassie was working with another student on homework and other assignments. Coon looked at the other student and said, ``You, you're cool, man,'' as if to assure him he wasn't at risk.

Grassie said Coon's behavior problems, which he said had led to plans by the school administration to transfer Coon to another school, should have been a sign of possible trouble.

``All the warning signs were there,'' he said. ``Nobody picked up on them.''

Grassie criticized the lack of security at the school _ a lone guard and an occasional metal detector _ and said a permanent metal detector would have identified anyone entering school with a weapon. He said teachers had pressed for years to get a guard assigned to patrol the upper floors of the converted office building that houses the school's classrooms.

School officials have repeatedly said they were trying to determine how Coon entered the building and said tapes from 26 cameras were checked to determine what happened.

A message seeking comment was left at school offices Monday.

School officials said last week the 50,000-student district, with 110 buildings, would install metal detectors in each school and make sure a guard is on duty in every building.

The other wounded teacher and wounded students were released from hospitals last week. A third student injured her knee in a fall while fleeing the rampage.