- The Washington Times - Monday, October 9, 2006

JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) — Fascinated by the Columbine bloodbath, a 13-year-old boy in a dark green trench coat and mask carried an assault rifle into his school yesterday, pointed it at students and fired a shot into a ceiling before the weapon jammed, authorities said. No one was hurt.

“Please don’t make me do this,” he was quoted as telling administrators before police arrested him and thwarted what they called a “well-thought-out plan” to terrorize his school.

Police said a note in the student’s backpack indicated he had planted an explosive in the school, but no bombs were found.

Lt. Geoff Jones said the boy’s motives were not clear. School officials said the student had no major disciplinary problems.

The seventh-grader, whose name was not released, pointed the weapon at two students inside Joplin Memorial Middle School but was confronted by an administrator who tried to talk him into putting down the rifle, Lt. Jones said.

The boy refused and fired a shot into the ceiling of an entryway, police said. He tried to continue firing but the rifle jammed, Lt. Jones said. The student then left the building.

“We don’t believe he was trying to fire at administrators or students,” Officer Curt Farmer said.

Officers arrested the teen behind a nearby building. Police described his weapon as a Mac-90, a replica of an AK-47 assault rifle.

Superintendent Jim Simpson said police told him the boy had a fascination with the Columbine High School shooting that left 15 persons dead near Littleton, Colo., in 1999. The student was wearing a trench coat — like the student gunmen at Columbine — and had a T-shirt over his head with eye holes cut out, Officer Farmer said.

Officer Farmer said the boy’s backpack held the note as well as military manuals, instructions on assembling an improvised explosive device and detailed drawings of the school.

“This was quite well thought-out,” the policeman said. “He had been planning this for a long time.”

Lt. Jones said the rifle belonged to the boy’s parents. Officer Farmer said it is not uncommon for people in the area to own assault weapons.

The shooting happened about 10 minutes before school started.

“A lot of the kids were scared,” said eighth-grader Deron Moore. “After they said on the intercom that there was someone with a gun, I kind of went into shock.”

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