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New York Times
Published: September 28, 1988
GREENWOOD, S.C., Sept. 27 — A young man accused of killing an 8-year-old girl and wounding 10 people in a shooting attack Monday was in and out of a hospital psychiatric ward several times over the past eight months, relatives say.
The accused man, James William Wilson, who was arrested after the shooting at the Oakland Elementary School, is a hyperactive recluse fascinated by crime stories, his father and a grandmother said.
The 19-year-old Mr. Wilson was being held without bond. A retired State Supreme Court judge, Bruce Littlejohn, acting as a special judge, ordered Mr. Wilson sent to Columbia for psychiatric examination.
Mr. Wilson entered the school shortly before noon Monday and opened fire in a classroom and the cafeteria, killing Shequila Tawonn Bradley and wounding two teachers and eight pupils, said Police Chief James Coursey. The authorities said they did not know a motive for the shooting.
Robert S. Watson. the school superintendent, said: ”He seemed to be shooting people who were screaming. The teacher said those who were screaming or making noise, he shot them.”
The school in this city of about 20,000 people 74 miles northwest of Columbia remained closed today.
Mr. Wilson was admitted to a psychiatric ward three or four times in the past eight months, his father, James Wilson, and his paternal grandmother, Gladys Wilson, said in interviews with The State newspaper. They said he had not returned to the hospital more recently because the family’s medical insurance ran out.
Drugs for Depression
The young Mr. Wilson liked going to the hospital because they gave him drugs, his father said, adding that until two months ago the young man had been taking medication for depression. He was not employed. He ”just didn’t have the ability,” his father said.
Mrs. Wilson said, ”He was hyperactive, really more than hyperactive.”
The young Mr. Wilson had been living with his grandmother on and off since he was 14 and permanently the last two years.
He would keep himself sequestered in his bedroom and surrounded by books, Mrs. Wilson said. Lately, he had been reading numerous crime books, she said.
The wounded teachers, Kat Finkbeiner and Eleanor Hodge, were listed in fair condition today at a hospital A 7-year-old pupil was in critical condition and another was in fair condition.
Six pupils were treated for superficial wounds and released Monday.
Chief Coursey said Mr. Wilson first went to the cafeteria and opened fire with a .22-caliber nine-shot revolver, wounding one teacher and three students. He left the cafeteria and entered a girl’s restroom to reload his weapon. Ms. Finkbeiner followed and attempted to prevent him from leaving the room, the chief said.
In a scuffle, Ms. Finkbeiner was shot in the mouth and hand. Mr. Wilson then entered a classroom, where he opened fire, wounding five students and killing Shequila, Chief Coursey said. After emptying his pistol, Mr. Wilson dropped it. Ms. Finkbeiner told him to raise his hands and stand until an officer arrived, the chief said.