Teenage shooting suspect surrenders

Tuesday, July 18th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Editors Note: The following story is courteys of our sister station KING-5 Seattle.

SKYWAY, WA – The 13-year-old boy who allegedly fired a gun inside the cafeteria at Dimmitt Middle School turned himself into police Tuesday morning, after spending the night in the woods.

At 11:02 a.m. the boy surrendered to his mother, who was staying at the boy’s grandparents’ house near the school. Sheriff’s deputies took the boy, who was not injured, into custody.

After answering some preliminary questions, the boy led deputies to the gun used in the shooting. It was hidden in a wooded area near the school, which is apparently where the boy spent the night.

Investigators planned to question the boy Tuesday afternoon, and possibly discover a motive for the shooting.

"Everybody’s got a different story," John Urquhart, King County Sheriff's Department spokesman, told KING 5's Mark Mullen. "I’m sure he’s going to be a big help to us in finding the real true story of why he did this.”

After the boy is interviewed, he will be booked into the youth detention center in downtown Seattle, Urquhart said. Then the King County Prosecutor's Office will decide what charges to file against the boy. Those could include charges of assault with a firearm, as well as reckless endangerment.

Urquhart said the boy, who was dressed in black and had blond hair dyed blue at the ends, got on a table at about 10:30 a.m. Monday and shot a round from a .22-caliber handgun into the ceiling. He ordered the other students to get on the stage in the cafeteria, but they scattered and ran, Urquhart said.

Roughly 200 summer school students were in the building at the time. Sheriff's deputies urged them to gather outside so they could be accounted for, and by mid-afternoon, all but 10 of them had given statements to police.

The boy had been spending the summer at his grandparents’ house, and deputies believed he may have stolen the gun from his grandfather.

The boy eluded police capture for 24 hours. Deputies searched the school and the nearby woods, even searching houses and yards in the Skyway neighborhood.

Witnesses’ accounts
Cylas Sampson, 13, said he was sitting with a group of friends in the cafeteria Monday and had called the youth over to sit with them.

"He said, 'You don't have to worry about school anymore. Today's your last day of school,"' Sampson said.

When the boy fired the shot, Sampson said he and other students scattered.

Sampson and other students said the boy frequently talked about wanting to kill a particular teacher.

"He wanted to kill all the teachers, but he only wanted to kill a few students," Sampson said.

Brittany Lamb, 14, was sitting at the same table as the armed youth when he stood up and fired the shot. She said she was too scared to move, and he threatened her directly.

"He put the gun right up to my face and he said, 'I'm going to kill you if you don't get up on the stage.' I was frozen. I could not move at all," Lamb said.

At that point a teacher shouted that police were coming and the boy swore and ran, Lamb said.

Lamb said the boy lives near her.

"When I knew him he wasn't really that bad. This just sort of happened over the past couple weeks," she said. He "went gothic or something." She said that he had been talking about shooting a teacher for at least a couple days and had told other pupils he was going to commit suicide before the police got him.

"My friends and I didn't really think he'd do that," Lamb said. "A lot of people knew he was talking about it, but they didn't say anything because they didn't think he would really do it. People say dumb stuff like that all the time."

School spokesman Peter Daniels said authorities had received no previous warnings about the boy.

"Generally, the kids have been really good about helping us to identify problems," he said.

Since the Columbine High School massacre last year, the school has conducted numerous safety drills, Daniels said. Pupils were told that if they were in an open area where a gun was displayed, they should run, he said.

Jonathan Carpenter, 10, said he was sitting in the cafeteria, playing with friends when he heard the gunshot.

"I just ran. I thought I was going to die. I didn't know what was going on," the fifth-grader said.

He ran outside the building and joined a number of his classmates up the hill until police came by and told him it was OK to come back to the school.

Carpenter's grandfather, Thane Carpenter, came to get him.

"They said right away that no one was injured so I wasn't all that worried. But it sure is something you don't want to see anywhere," the elder Carpenter said.

Dimmitt Middle School was closed on Tuesday, but counselors were on hand for students to talk with. The school will reopen Wednesday.