Teen suffered depression; Shooter in murder-suicide recently started medication — (Record Searchlight)

SSRI Ed note: Teen, 16, put on antidepressants for suicidal and threatening behavior shoots and kills neighbor and himself. No motive identified.

Original article no longer available

Record Searchlight

By Christina Lucarotti / Record Searchlight

September 29, 2004

The Redding teenager who killed his neighbor and then himself last week was being treated for depression and had been placed on antidepressant medication less than a month before the Sept. 21 murder-suicide, Redding police said Tuesday.

Paul McCallister, a sophomore at Anderson New Technology High School, had a two-year history of threatening to kill his parents and had recently talked about killing himself, police said.

A motive for wanting to kill his neighbor Teresa Lynn Northrip, however, has not been found.

McCallister’s mother told police her 16-year-old son was not acting like himself the afternoon of the shooting.

She dropped him off about 4 p.m. at their apartment, and while he was home alone, he e-mailed a friend to say he was thinking about killing himself, Redding Sgt. Paul Grooms said.

The friend replied, saying suicide was not a good idea.

Minutes later, McCallister walked downstairs with a 12-gauge shotgun and tote bag packed with clothes.

Police said McCallister might have originally planned to kill his neighbor and then leave. Instead, at 4:46 p.m., the teen shot Northrip twice and then turned his parent’s gun on himself.

Steve and Debbie McCallister, the teen’s adoptive parents will not face criminal charges for their son’s actions, Grooms said.

Grooms said no negligence was found on the part of the McCallisters, who could not be reached Tuesday for comment.

“They took appropriate precautions with him and the firearms,” Grooms said.

The McCallisters kept two firearms, including the shotgun, inside their apartment. Both weapons were secured with gunlocks, Grooms said.

Tension between McCallister and Northrip appears to have begun two years ago.

At that time, Northrip, 31, had asked McCallister to stop playing with her children after hearing from neighborhood kids that McCallister had threatened to kill his parents, Grooms said.

Northrip, a mother of three and a day-care provider, lived directly below the McCallister family in an apartment complex on East Way.

She reported the threats to police, Grooms said, and McCallister’s parents were told about the situation.

McCallister avoided Northrip and her family from that point on, police said. Occasionally, he would be asked to turn down his music, but nothing more serious than that, Grooms said.

McCallister’s parents were worried about his mental health and placed the teen in counseling two months before the shooting, Grooms said.

Three weeks before the murder-suicide, McCallister ran away from home. He was placed on antidepressants shortly after that, Grooms said.

McCallister had recently told friends he was upset his family was going to move out of Redding. He hinted he was contemplating killing his parents and himself, police said. The family’s move was planned for the week of the shooting.

Grooms said he could not disclose the type of medication McCallister had been taking because it was part of his medical history.

Two U.S. Food and Drug Administration studies have recently indicated some antidepressants may increase a child’s risk of suicide.

Northrip’s friend Misty Call was not surprised to hear mental illness might have played a role in McCallister’s decision-making.

“We just keep thinking, ‘Did he really go there to kill her or did he go there to hurt her?'” Call said, speculating he may not have been fully aware of the consequences. “Something had to push him over the edge to do this.”

Reporter Christina Lucarotti can be reached at 225-8215 or at clucarotti@redding.com.