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May 21, 1998
1 student dead; 2 bodies found at suspect’s home
SPRINGFIELD, Oregon (CNN) — A 15-year-old Oregon boy is facing murder charges after allegedly opening fire on his classmates with a semiautomatic rifle, killing one student and wounding 23 others. Two bodies believed to be those of his parents were later found at his home.
Kipland P. Kinkel, a freshman at Thurston High School, was subdued at the scene by some of his classmates, who are being called “heroes” by police. Based on his subsequent statements, investigators went to Kinkel’s home in a rural area north of Springfield and found the bodies of a man and a woman, both shot to death.
Lane County Sheriff Jan Clements said authorities had not positively identified the couple, but believe they are Kinkel’s parents. The suspect’s grandmother told the Statesman Journal of Salem and the New York Times that the slain adults were the boy’s parents.
William P. Kinkel, 59, was retired from teaching Spanish at Thurston High. Faith M. Kinkel, 57, taught Spanish at nearby Springfield High. Kinkel has a sister, Kristin, 21, who was out of the state at the time of the shooting. Clements said warrants were obtained to search the property.
Those wounded in the Thurston High School cafeteria were taken to two hospitals in Springfield and nearby Eugene for treatment. Among the 18 who remained hospitalized, six were in critical condition, hospital officials said.
Victim’s sweetheart: ‘He was my best friend’
The dead student was identified as Mikael Nickolauson, 17, who had just enlisted Monday in the Oregon National Guard. His girlfriend, Michelle Calhoun, said he was sitting at a table in the cafeteria when Kinkel, dressed in jeans, a tan jacket and a baseball cap, walked in carrying a gun in each hand and casually started firing at random.
The girl told CNN she ducked and ran, and never got back to the table where her boyfriend was gunned down. “He was my best friend. He wasn’t just my boyfriend. He was my best friend,” she said.
Kinkel had been suspended Wednesday after being arrested for bringing a gun to school, and he faced a hearing that could have resulted in his expulsion, School Superintendent Jamon Kent said. He was released to the custody of his parents, which police said was normal procedure under Oregon law.
Prosecutor Doug Harper said Kinkel would be charged as an adult on aggravated murder and other charges. He was expected to be arraigned Friday afternoon. Under Oregon law, juveniles cannot face the death penalty.
Kinkel said he would ‘do something stupid’
Student Robbie Johnson, who said he knew Kinkel, said that on Wednesday, Kinkel “told a couple of people he was probably going to do something stupid today and get back at the people who had expelled him.” “He always said that it would be fun to kill someone and do stuff like that,” Johnson said. Other students said Kinkel had once given a talk in speech class on how to build a bomb.
“I think it’s pretty early to determine whether he had any particular targets,” Springfield Police Capt. Jerry Smith said. “At this time, we have no evidence of that.” Clements said authorities have no reason to believe Kinkel didn’t act alone, but said, “We’re not ruling anything out.”
Kinkel was captured after being tackled by other students when he apparently ran out of ammunition in the rifle and reached for a handgun. Police said he had taken three weapons to school: the .22-caliber rifle, a .22-caliber handgun and a 9 mm semiautomatic Glock pistol.
One of the students who helped subdue Kinkel was Jake Ryker, a wrestler who grappled with the suspect despite being shot himself, wrestling coach Gary Bowden said.
“Just shoot me, shoot me now,” Ryker’s brother, Josh, quoted Kinkel as saying.
Mayor: ‘We have to ask some tough questions’
The incident marked the fifth fatal shooting at a U.S. school in the last nine months, leaving the western Oregon city of 51,000 in a state of shock. “I think prayer at the present time is the best recourse that we have. We will get through this, ” said Springfield Mayor Bill Morrisette. “This is not a Springfield problem. This is a problem of our society, perhaps throughout the world. We do have to ask ourselves some tough questions.”
President Clinton called Morrisette to offer his condolences. Speaking at a White House ceremony, Clinton said, “I know that all Americans are heartbroken by the terrible shooting.”
“I would just like to say on behalf of the American people that our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the people who were killed and wounded, and with that entire fine community.”
Witness: ‘It was like a movie’
The shooting happened about 8 a.m. (11 a.m. EDT) at the 1,700-student high school. Students were gathered in the cafeteria and an adjacent courtyard before classes, shortly after completion of an end-of-the-year honor assembly.
Some students later said they initially thought it was a gag when Kinkel entered the cafeteria and allegedly began firing.
“I thought it was fake. I had never heard a gun go off,” said Stephanie Quimby, 16. “It was like a movie and you were there. I felt so calm. I knew it was real when I saw him point the gun at someone and heard a girl yell, ‘Tressa.'”
The scene was described by one witness as “mayhem.” Emergency teams called to the scene set up a triage center to treat the wounded.
Some ask why Kinkel wasn’t watched
In the wake of the shooting, Bowden, the wrestling coach, asked the question that many others in Springfield were asking — “Any kid who takes a gun to school — why he isn’t put under observation for a few weeks is beyond me.”
After the shooting, traffic jams clogged streets as concerned parents rushed to Thurston High. Weeping parents hovered about outside and expressed disbelief that the suspected shooter was back in the school the day after being arrested on a gun violation.
“He told people he was going to do something,” one mother said. “Why they let him out, I can’t believe it. Someone should be feeling pretty guilty.”
School had not been scheduled at Thurston High on Friday because of the Memorial Day holiday. However, school officials decided to open the school and offer counseling to any students, parents or teachers who want it.
Correspondent Tony Clark contributed to this report.
Original article no longer available
Oregon school shooter showed signs of mental disease — (CNN)
November 5, 1999
Web posted at: 11:37 a.m. EDT (1537 GMT)
A neurologist’s testimony about Kinkel’s mental state made the teen sit up and listen for the first time in three days of proceedings
Sentencing hearing continues for Kip Kinkel
EUGENE, Oregon (CNN) — A sentencing hearing continues Friday for Kip Kinkel, the Oregon teen-ager who pleaded guilty to murdering his parents and a subsequent high school shooting rampage that left two students dead.E BOARD
Kinkel will have to serve at least 25 years. The hearing that began Tuesday in Lane County Circuit Court is to determine if that sentence will be extended. The prosecution wants Kinkel to get life.
‘Holes’ in Kinkel’s brain
A neurologist who testified for the defense on Thursday pointed to a multicolored computerized scan of Kinkel’s brain, explaining that “holes” in what is normally a smooth surface indicate reduced brain activity consistent with new research into children who become schizophrenic.
Dr. Richard Konkol, responding to a question from Kinkel’s attorney, Mark Sabitt, agreed that the “holes” would make the teen more susceptible to a psychotic episode.
“I think it would,” responded Konkol, chairman of pediatric neurology at Kaiser Permanente Northwest Health Plan and a professor at Oregon Health Sciences University.
How long in prison?
In a move that avoided a trial, Kinkel, 17, abandoned an insanity defense and pleaded guilty September 24 to four counts of murder and 26 counts of attempted murder in the May 1998 slayings of his parents and two classmates at Thurston High School in Springfield, Oregon.
Another 25 students were wounded in the attack; Kinkel also attacked a detective with a knife.
In his plea bargain, Kinkel agreed to serve 25 years for the murders, but it remains up to Judge Jack Mattison whether to extend the sentence up to 220 years by tacking on additional years for the attempted murders.
Konkol said the scan fit new research about childhood schizophrenia, which would appear to support a psychologist’s diagnosis of Kinkel as a paranoid schizophrenic. Konkol said he believed the cause of the brain damage was developmental, and perhaps genetic.
Mental illness in teen killer’s family
His testimony prompted Kinkel to sit up and take notice for the first time. The teen had spent most of the first three days of testimony hiding his face in his arms or laying with his forehead on the table and people recited details of his crimes.
The neurologist was followed by a private investigator, Joyce Naffziger, who said she had found frequent cases of mental illness — including schizophrenia — in Kinkel’s extended family. Four out of five first cousins on Kinkel’s mother’s side had been institutionalized, she said.
A child psychologist also testified Thursday that Kinkel’s fascination with guns and bombs and his strained relationship with his father led the teen’s mother to bring him in for treatment. The psychologist, Jeffrey Hicks, said he found Kinkel extremely depressed and angry, but not psychotic.
Kinkel began taking the antidepressant drug Prozac in 1997, but earlier court exchanges have indicated he stopped taking it before the shootings.
Kinkel writes of ‘voices’ in his head
As the hearing opened on Tuesday, the excerpts of a journal kept by Kinkel were read aloud in court. In it, the teen said he had been a terrible son and didn’t deserve such wonderful parents.
He also wrote: “My head just doesn’t work right.”
“Goddamn these voices in my head,” one excerpt says. “I have to kill people. I don’t know why. I have no other choice.'”
Correspondent Rusty Dornin and The Associated Press contributed to this report.