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Archive for Wednesday, March 7, 2001

Clues to shooting sought

Authorities say student fired at random targets

March 7, 2001

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— The 15-year-old accused of killing two fellow high school students was an "angry young man," but apparently lashed out at no particular target, investigators said Tuesday.

Charles Andrew "Andy" Williams allegedly seemed to shoot at random. He expressed no remorse for Monday's shootings at Santana High School, Lt. Jerry Lewis said.

A makeshift memorial for victims of the Santana High School
shooting is growing. Tuesday, student Erik Wallingford visited the
memorial in Santee, Calif. Wallingford is a friend of slain student
Randy Gordon.

A makeshift memorial for victims of the Santana High School shooting is growing. Tuesday, student Erik Wallingford visited the memorial in Santee, Calif. Wallingford is a friend of slain student Randy Gordon.

"We don't know if he was mad at the school, mad at students, mad at life, mad at home," Lewis said. "He was an angry young man."

Williams was a new kid in a large school, a child of divorced parents living with his father, a skinny freshman whose skateboard had been stolen twice.

Last weekend, friends say, Williams talked so much about taking a gun to school that they frisked him before class Monday. But he was known for pranks, and friends wrote off his comments as one of his frequent jokes.

The father of one friend even called Williams at home over the weekend to ask if there was anything to his talk of bringing a gun to school. He decided there wasn't.

No one seemed to believe the clean-cut kid, who was frequently teased, was capable of perpetrating the nation's latest high school blood bath.

The disbelief remained a day after the shooting, which left 13 others injured.

One victim, Barry Gibson, 18, said he was more perplexed than angry.

"I have no hatred because I don't know him," said Gibson, who was shot in the back of his left thigh when he ran back to help a friend. "I don't know what was in his mind."

Williams is expected to be arraigned Wednesday as an adult on charges that include murder and assault with a deadly weapon. Dressed in a baggy jail-issue jumpsuit that draped past his ankles, the teen stared at the ground as he was led into juvenile hall Monday by sheriff's deputies.

Bryan Zuckor, 14, and 17-year-old Randy Gordon were killed; 11 other students and two adults a special education student teacher and a campus security worker were wounded. Several had been released from area hospitals.

School officials said Santana High would reopen today for students to discuss Monday's shooting. A crew cleaned up the scene Tuesday and patched bullet holes.

Also Tuesday, Sharon Davis, wife of Gov. Gray Davis and a 1972 Santana High graduate, visited Santee and talked with community leaders and students.

"I couldn't believe it was Santana, the school I attended, because we all look back on our high school years as idyllic," she said.

'Total chaos'

Williams allegedly shot two people in a rest room, then walked into a quad and fired randomly, Lewis said. The boy stopped to reload as many as four times, getting off 30 or more shots, Lewis said.

"The information we have from the evidence and the witnesses (is) the suspect was firing randomly at anybody who was going by," Lewis said. "Any student who was going by he was shooting at."

"It was total chaos. People were trying to take cover," said student John Schardt, 17, who was in a nearby classroom when the shooting started. He said the shooter had a smile on his face.

"Pop, pop, pop and everyone started ducking," recalled student Nika Ocen-Odoge.

The FBI, which has analyzed 18 school shootings, has developed guidelines that could help authorities assess whether someone is a threat. But the agency found there's no real profile of characteristics that explains such behavior, spokeswoman Jan Caldwell said.

"We've seen these kids come from very good homes where they have two loving parents," Caldwell said. "There really is no menu for this."

Authorities said the gun used in the shooting, an eight-shot, .22-caliber long rifle revolver, belonged to his father, who told investigators it was kept in a locked cabinet.

When Williams surrendered, the gun was fully loaded with eight rounds, its hammer cocked, investigators said. He came to school with as many as 40 rounds.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is tracing the serial number on the handgun, said Randy Jones, assistant U.S. attorney in San Diego.

Quick response

Authorities said the shooting could have been much worse if not for the swift actions of a sheriff's deputy and an off-duty police officer who was on campus to register his child in the school.

"I do believe that if it had not been for the conduct of the people involved ... it would have been even worse," Sheriff Bill Kolender said.

Williams' father, Charles, a lab technician at Naval Medical Center San Diego, has made no public comment.

The boy's mother, Linda Wells, tearfully expressed sorrow for the victims' families as she opened her door a crack to a television reporter at her home in North Augusta, S.C.

"My heart goes out to them. They've lost their babies, their hopes, their dreams for their futures," Wells told WJBF-TV in Augusta, Ga.

'Pothead,' prankster

Williams lived with his father in an apartment near Santana High. If there was trouble in the home, it wasn't immediately apparent to neighbors. Gilbert Chavez, 21, said the boy volunteered to help him move to a nearby apartment and seemed typical.

"I just can't believe he did that," Chavez said. "He was always laughing and riding his skateboard."

Others said the boy was known to drink alcohol and smoke marijuana while hanging out at boulders near the apartment complex or a local skateboard park.

"He was a skater and he was a pothead," said Brittany Evjen, a freshman at the school.

A neighbor, Vanessa Willis, told reporters that Williams was into pranks. He and a friend recently took water guns to school saying they were filled with urine and squirted them at people on campus.

Nearly everyone agrees Williams was the victim of frequent teasing. Even his friends say he was picked on for his skinny build.

But a girl who said she was his former girlfriend, Ashlee Alsopp, told "Good Morning America" that the taunts didn't seem to bother him that much and that he wasn't a violent person by nature.

"He was really nice. I mean, he never made fun of anybody that I know of," she said.

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