A 14-year-old suspended student opened fire in his downtown high school. The student wounded four people. Terrified schoolmates hid in closets and bathrooms and huddled under laboratory desks. The attacker eventually killed himself.
A fellow student at SuccessTech Academy alternative school said Asa H. Coon, who was suspended for fighting two days earlier, had made threats in front of students and teachers last week.
"He's crazy. He threatened to blow up our school. He threatened to stab everybody," Doneisha LeVert said. "We didn't think nothing of it."
Armed with two revolvers, Coon fired eight shots and may have targeted teachers in the shootings Wednesday, Police Chief Michael McGrath said.
Math teacher David Kachadourian, who was treated at a hospital for a minor wound to the back of one shoulder, said Coon had been a student in a beginning algebra class he taught. But the 57-year-old teacher said he had not disciplined Coon and knew of no reason why Coon might target him.
"I never felt personally threatened or personally at risk," Kachadourian said after leaving the hospital. "I had concerns about him, yes. He seemed like an angry young man. I did not fear for my own safety."
Police found a duffel bag stocked with ammunition and three knives in a bathroom but found no suicide note, McGrath said.
Parents were angry that firearms got into a school equipped with metal detectors that students said were intermittently used.
Coon spent time in two juvenile facilities after a domestic violence episode and was given home detention, and he was suspended from school last year for trying to injure a student, according to juvenile court records obtained by The Plain Dealer newspaper. He had a history of mental health problems and threatened to commit suicide last year while in a mental health center, the paper reported.
"That's the most basic, profound and saddest part of the whole thing, knowing he was in so much pain and torment," Kachadourian said. "Anytime someone takes his own life, it shows he was desperate."
Officials said two teachers and two students were shot, and that a 14-year-old girl fell and hurt her knee while running out of the school.
Witnesses said the shooter moved through the converted five-story downtown office building, working his way up through the first two floors of administrative offices to the third floor of classrooms. Officials said he was wearing a Marilyn Manson concert shirt, black jeans and black-painted finger nails.
Coon had been suspended since Monday for fighting near the school that day, said Charles Blackwell, president of SuccessTech's student-parent organization. He did not know how Coon got into the building Wednesday.
People at Coon's home declined to comment Wednesday evening.
Classes at all schools in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District will be canceled Thursday and counseling will be made available for students, said Eugene Sanders, chief executive officer of the district.
SuccessTech Academy is an alternative high school in the public school district that stresses technology and entrepreneurship for about 240 students, most of them black, with a small number of white and Hispanic students. It opened five years ago and ranks in the middle of the state's ratings for student performance. Its graduation rate is 94 percent, well above the district's rate of 55 percent.
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