15-Year-Old Charged With First-Degree Murder In School Shooting

Assistant principal killed, other victims airlifted to hospitals.

A Jacksboro, Tennessee, high school student allegedly shot and killed an assistant principal and seriously wounded his principal and another administrator on Tuesday before being taken into custody and charged with first-degree murder.

The 15-year-old freshman was arrested in the death of Campbell County Comprehensive High School Assistant Principal Ken Bruce and is also accused of shooting Assistant Principal Jim Pierce, whose condition was upgraded from critical to serious overnight, and Principal Gary Seale, who has been upgraded to stable, according to the Campbell County Sheriff's Department.

Seale was shot in the lower abdomen as he attempted to stop the teen, who used a small .22 caliber handgun he had brought from his home, according to CNN. Sheriff Ron McClellan said he is so far unaware of a motive.

Pierce and Seale were airlifted to University of Tennessee Medical Center. Bruce was taken to St. Mary's Medical Center in LaFollette, as was the suspected shooter, who was treated for a minor gunshot injury to his hand. The student is being held in a juvenile detention center.

Seale and Pierce have been educators for more than 30 years, and Bruce was a lieutenant colonel in the Army who returned to teaching about eight years ago, according to an Associated Press report.

No students were injured in the lunchroom melee, which occurred sometime between 2:30 and 3 p.m. The school was immediately placed under lockdown, although students were allowed to leave a few hours later.

The district attorney for Campbell County, Paul Phillips, has charged the alleged shooter as a juvenile with one count of first-degree murder, according to CNN, and he is scheduled to be arraigned in the next few days. Phillips said he believes the youth should be tried as an adult on first-degree murder charges. "It is appropriate that he be tried as an adult and subject to adult penalties," he said.

About 1,400 students attend Campbell County High School, located about 30 miles northwest of Knoxville. Students who knew the gunman said he was troubled and had disciplinary problems at school. According to CNN, it was fellow students who alerted administrators that the 15-year-old had a gun in the school, which he was reportedly hiding under a piece of paper. Officials have determined that the shooter acted alone and are not pursuing any other suspects at this time. McClellan could not be reached for further comment on Wednesday (November 9).

Tuesday's shooting comes eight months after 16-year-old Jeff Weise killed a teacher, a security guard, five students, his grandfather and companion, and himself in Red Lake, Minnesota (see "High School Shooter Reportedly Admired Hitler, Was Previously Investigated").

That was the deadliest school shooting in the United States since 18-year-old Eric Harris and 17-year-old Dylan Klebold killed 12 students and a teacher before turning their guns on themselves at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, on April 20, 1999 (see "Columbine Shooters' Parents Fight Release Of Homemade Videos").

If you ever see a student carrying a weapon or hear talk of plans for violence, you can anonymously call (866) SPEAK-UP toll free and the tip will be forwarded to the proper local authorities.

For more information, see "How You Can Help Prevent Another School Shooting."

[This story was originally published on 11.08.05 at 3:54 p.m. ET]