Teen persuaded classmate to drop gun after cafeteria shooting

Thursday, March 8th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) _ A teen-ager who had ducked for cover when a classmate was shot inside their crowded cafeteria emerged when he recognized the alleged shooter and persuaded her to drop the gun.

``The principal told me to get back, but you could tell she was really mad and she looked like she was about to go off on everybody,'' Brent Paucke, 14, said after Wednesday's shooting. ``I got up and started talking to her. I didn't want anyone to get hurt.''

Police commended Paucke for his courage in approaching the 14-year-old girl, getting her to drop the revolver and then kicking it away when she turned to listen to school officials.

A 13-year-old girl was shot in the shoulder during the shooting, but no one else at the Roman Catholic school was injured.

The alleged shooter was arrested and charged as a juvenile with attempted homicide and aggravated assault.

Her attorney, George Lepley, said the girl had been subjected to ``a lot of name-calling, derogatory comments and innuendoes.''

Police said the suspect had feuded with the victim, Kimberly Marchese, in the past. Michael Marchese, Kimberly's father, denied that Thursday on ABC's ``Good Morning America.''

He said he saw the girls chatting regularly after school and that ``Kimmy got along good with everybody.''

Classes were canceled Thursday, but counselors were at the school to offer support to any student who needed it. Classes were expected to resume Friday.

At a news conference Wednesday, Williamsport police Officer David Ritter described Paucke as a ``very courageous student.''

Paucke and fellow student Andrew Miller, 16, said they were already in the cafeteria when the girl came in screaming.

``She told everyone to get down,'' Miller said. ``She fired toward the ceiling, then fired into the ground, which ricocheted and hit the girl in the shoulder.''

Paucke said he ducked under a lunchroom table when he heard the shots, but then he recognized the girl from his school bus.

``She was saying, 'I don't want to live. I should just commit suicide right here.' And she pointed the gun at her head,'' Paucke said.

He said his mind ``just blanked'' as he walked toward her in the cafeteria. Everything was silent except for her yelling.

``I was saying, ... 'you don't have to do this. It doesn't have to be like this. It can be better. Just put the gun down or give it to me,''' Paucke said.

When she didn't immediately drop the weapon, Paucke said he turned and started walking away.

``I turned back around and said, ... 'just put the gun down.' Then she dropped it,'' he said.

Paucke kicked the gun away when a school official distracted her, Ritter said.

Ritter couldn't confirm that the bullet ricocheted. He said it appeared the ``individual walked up behind her, shot her in the shoulder,'' but that the shooter didn't intend to hurt anyone else.

Police said the gun was a .22-caliber revolver that came from the girl's home.

Kimberly Marchese was in pain after surgery on her shoulder but was talkative, said Dr. Michael Ryan.

The teen's mother, Christine Marchese, said she stayed up with her daughter most of the night.

``She had a very rough night,'' she told ``Good Morning America.'' ``We've been crying a lot and talking all night. I think it's best we talk and get it out.''

The shooting at the central Pennsylvania school came two days after a teen-ager opened fire in a school in Santee, Calif., killing two people and injuring 13.