- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 6, 2001

SANTEE, Calif. A 15-year-old boy who had been picked on and had talked about shooting classmates opened fire at a high school yesterday, killing two persons and wounding 13, officials said.

San Diego County District Attorney Paul Pfingst identified the shooter as Charles Andrew Williams and said he would be charged as an adult with murder, assault with a deadly weapon and gun possession. He will be arraigned tomorrow. Fellow students said they knew the shooter as Andy Williams.

One student said the boy, a freshman, had a smile on his face as he fired away with a revolver at Santana High School in this middle-class San Diego suburb.

The suspect surrendered in a school bathroom, dropped his gun and said he acted alone, telling officers: "It's just me," according to sheriff's officials.

FBI and sheriff's officials served a search warrant last night on the apartment where the teen lived with his father and removed a computer hard drive about 30 minutes after entering.

The slain students were identified as Brian Zuckor, 14, and Randy Gordon, 15. Authorities said Randy's sister, Kirschner Gordon, was among the injured, and another of the victims was a campus supervisor.

One student suffered minor injuries in a car accident while fleeing the 1,900-student school.

"I know in your minds is the overriding question: 'Why?' " Mr. Pfingst said. "The suspect has made statements. I will not share the contents of the statements with you at this time, but there is no real answer. I am not sure in any real way we will ever know why."

Fellow students and an adult acquaintance said they had heard the boy's threats over the weekend but thought he was joking and did not report him to authorities.

"He was picked on all the time," student Jessica Moore said. "He was picked on because he was one of the scrawniest guys. People called him freak … nerd, stuff like that."

"I looked at the kid, and he was smiling and shooting his weapon," said student John Schardt, 17, who was in a nearby classroom when the shooting started about 9:20 a.m. in a boys' restroom and spilled into a hallway area. "It was total chaos. People were trying to take cover."

Another student, Andrew Kaforey, said he ran into the bathroom with a security guard after hearing what sounded like a firecracker or a gunshot.

"He pointed the gun right at me, but he didn't shoot," the 17-year-old senior said. As he and the guard ran out, the gunman shot the guard in the back, he said.

Investigators said the boy used a .22-caliber revolver, stopping once to reload, and retreated into the bathroom after the shooting.

The attack was the nation's deadliest school shooting since the April 1999 murders at Columbine High near Littleton, Colo., where two teen-agers killed 12 fellow students and a teacher before committing suicide.

In Washington, President Bush called the shooting "a disgraceful act of cowardice."

"This is my worst nightmare," Principal Karen Degiescher said. She said that the campus will be closed today and that counselors were called in to help students.

Classmates and acquaintances of the boy described him as skinny and the subject of constant harassment. Students said he boasted about owning a gun.

Over the weekend, the boy "was joking on and off that he was going to come to school and shoot people," said Joshua Stevens, 15, a friend of the Williams youth. "He had it all planned out, but at the end of the weekend he said he was just joking and he wasn't really going to do it.

"I said, 'Like, you better be.' And he said, 'No, I'm serious.' "

Chris Reynolds, 29, who dates Joshua's mother, said he felt "I could've maybe done something" to prevent the shootings.

"I should've stepped up even if it wasn't true and stuff to take that precaution," said Mr. Reynolds. "That's going to be haunting me for a long time."

Mr. Reynolds said the boy stayed at his house Saturday night and talked about starting a shooting spree.

"I even mentioned Columbine to him. I said I don't want a Columbine here at Santana. But he said, 'No, nothing will happen, I'm just joking,' " Mr. Reynolds said.

Neil O'Grady, 15, said the suspected gunman had also talked to him and other friends over the weekend about a shooting at the school.

"He was telling us how he was going to bring a gun to school … but we thought he was joking," Neil said. "We were like, 'Yeah, right.' "

Recently, two skateboards had been stolen from the boy, he said. "He always gets picked on. He's scrawny, he's little," Neil said. "People think he's dumb."

Shannon Durrett, a 15-year-old freshman, said she has known the boy since school began in September. He liked skateboarding and hung out with his skateboarding friends, she said. "He was nice, he was funny, someone who would never do something like this," she said.

After the shooting, students were escorted to a nearby shopping center, where they filled a parking lot and waited anxiously while parents arrived and paramedics took away the wounded.

The school is about 10 miles northeast of San Diego and is the alma mater of Sharon Davis, wife of California Gov. Gray Davis.

"Sharon and I are shocked and deeply saddened by this tragedy," the governor said in a statement. "Our hearts and prayers go out to the students and their families, the school administrators and the law enforcement officials involved in this incident."

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