Sus­pect in school shoot­ing said vic­tim who died had bul­lied him

Yuma Sun - - OPINION -

ROCK­FORD, Wash. — A 15-year-old boy ac­cused of shoot­ing four class­mates at a ru­ral high school in Wash­ing­ton state had been meet­ing with a school coun­selor over sui­ci­dal thoughts be­fore bring­ing two guns from home and killing a stu­dent he said had bul­lied him, ac­cord­ing to court doc­u­ments re­leased Thurs­day.

The doc­u­ments and his class­mates de­tailed trou­bling be­hav­ior by Caleb Sharpe, say­ing he brought notes to school about do­ing “some­thing stupid,” was ob­sessed with past school shoot­ings and posted videos on­line show­ing him play­ing with guns.

Sharpe, a sopho­more at the school of 300 stu­dents, also had left a sui­cide note at home for his par­ents, the records said. Free­man High School in the tiny town of Rock­ford has not re­sponded to calls for com­ment on how they dealt with Sharpe’s be­hav­ior out­side of coun­sel­ing for his sui­ci­dal thoughts.

He took an as­sault weapon and a hand­gun from his fa­ther’s gun safe, to which he knew the com­bi­na­tion, and brought them in a duf­fel bag to the school south of Spokane Wed­nes­day, an in­ves­ti­ga­tor for the Spokane County Sher­iff’s Of­fice wrote in an af­fi­davit.

He pulled out the AR-15 ri­fle and tried to fire it in a hall­way but it jammed, the records said. That’s when a class­mate ap­proached Sharpe.

“I al­ways knew you were go­ing to shoot up the school,” the stu­dent said be­fore Sharpe shot him in the head and ab­domen with the hand­gun, ac­cord­ing to the doc­u­ments.

Sharpe told po­lice that he had been bul­lied by that stu­dent but did not tar­get him specif­i­cally.

“In­stead he’d come to the school to teach everyone a les­son about what hap­pens when you bully oth­ers,” the doc­u­ments said Sharpe told in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

He kept fir­ing the hand­gun, strik­ing three stu­dents, un­til it also jammed, doc­u­ments said.

He dropped the hand­gun and sur­ren­dered to an ap­proach­ing jan­i­tor, Joe Bowen, who or­dered him to the ground and held him for author­i­ties, the doc­u­ments said.

Spokane County Sher­iff Ozzie Kne­zovich called Bowen “a true hero” who stepped into the line of fire.

Sharpe was ar­rested and has yet to make an ap­pear­ance in ju­ve­nile court. It was not im­me­di­ately clear if he had an at­tor­ney to speak on his be­half.

The As­so­ci­ated Press doesn’t typ­i­cally name ju­ve­nile sus­pects but is do­ing so be­cause of the sever­ity of the ac­cu­sa­tions and be­cause Sharpe’s name was re­leased in pub­lic doc­u­ments and was widely used in lo­cal me­dia.

The three wounded vic­tims re­mained in the hospi­tal but were ex­pected to sur­vive.

Class­mates re­counted some trou­bling signs from Sharpe, say­ing they knew about videos he had posted on­line show­ing him play­ing with guns. Ju­nior Paul Fricke told The Spokesman-Re­view news­pa­per that “we knew he had an as­sault ri­fle, be­cause he uses it in his YouTube videos.”

In one video, Sharpe and a friend dis­play sev­eral guns, in­clud­ing what ap­pear to be air­soft weapons and one ac­tual ri­fle, and act out a sce­nario where they search for an imag­i­nary neigh­bor­hood drug dealer.

He also had brought notes earlier in the school year, say­ing he was go­ing to do “some­thing stupid” and might get killed or jailed, ac­cord­ing to class­mate Michael Harper.

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