Tears, Prayers at Student's Funeral


Sunday, March 11th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


SANTEE, Calif. (AP) — An outpouring of sorrow and community support on Saturday enveloped the grieving family of a Santana High School senior who was killed this past week in the deadliest school shooting since Columbine.

More than 700 mourners attended 17-year-old Randy Gordon's funeral. They cried and prayed for him at a church just down the street from the 1,900-student suburban San Diego high school where he and classmate Bryan Zuckor died Monday.

``He's such a good kid. It doesn't make any sense,'' said Cathy Bateman, a Boulevard resident who said she used to baby sit Gordon. ``I'm angry. I don't know what stage comes next, but I haven't gotten there yet.''

Gordon's mother, Mari Gordon-Rayborn, sobbed as photos were shown of her son.

Pausing briefly after the ceremony, Gordon-Rayborn told reporters: ``I want something good to come out of this. Maybe people should smile or say something good to someone they don't know. I want something good to come out of this.''

Close friend Erik Wallingford remembered running track, talking politics and sharing Tom Clancy books with Gordon.

``I was going to join the Navy with him,'' said Wallingford, a 15-year-old sophomore. ``Still am. Nothing's going to stop me from going to the academy for both of us.''

Many of Saturday's mourners wore lapel ribbons of purple and gold, the colors of the Santana Sultans. Heads bowed, they filed into the church past dozens of flower arrangements and wreaths.

For Gordon's family, the funeral was the second service in 16 hours at Sonrise Community Church, a 1,200-seat sanctuary that has served as a meeting place in the days since the shooting.

On Friday night, more than 3,000 people attended a community memorial where school officials and community leaders urged closer communication between adults and children.

Gov. Gray Davis and his wife, Sharon, a 1972 Santana graduate, offered their prayers and support. The governor called the shooting ``an act of unspeakable evil.''

Gordon was a distance runner on the school track team, a senior with a B average who doted on his half brother and half sister. He dreamed of becoming an FBI agent after serving in the Navy.

He was shot in the back between a row of lockers and dragged himself around a corner. He was pronounced dead at a hospital a short time later.

A funeral will be held Sunday at a Presbyterian church in nearby Lakeside for 14-year-old Zuckor, a freshman. An aspiring bicycle stunt man, he died when he was shot in the head in a boy's bathroom.

Eleven other students and two adults were wounded in the blood bath that has raised questions anew about how to prevent such tragedies.

Charles Andrew Williams, 15, a freshman, surrendered after allegedly firing more than 30 shots in and around a boy's bathroom from his father's .22-caliber long-barreled revolver. He is being held on murder and other charges stemming from the shooting.

Williams lived in Brunswick, Md., and Twentynine Palms before moving to Santee last year with his father, a civilian technician at Naval Medical Center San Diego.

The Williams family issued a statement Friday expressing horror at the shooting and ``deepest sympathy'' to the family and friends of the dead and wounded.

Classmates said Williams, whom they knew as ``Andy,'' was teased and bullied because of his small stature, big ears and inability to fit in.

Another arrest in connection with the shooting was made Friday when authorities took Patrick Andrew Smith, 18, of Walkersville, Md., into custody outside his home for allegedly sending threatening e-mails to two 15-year-old girls from Santee, one a student at Santana and another at rival West Hills High School.

``I'm finishing what Andy started,'' Smith allegedly threatened in one message. Authorities said they knew of no connection between Smith and Williams.