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Alleged Gunman’s Mom Apologizes

May 24, 1999

CONYERS, Ga. (AP) _ The mother of the teen who shot six fellow students at his high school apologized Monday to the victims and thanked the assistant principal who stopped her son from committing suicide when the boy put a gun in mouth.

In a tearful interview on CNN, Mae Dean Daniele said: ``We grieve for each one of you and we pray for a full recovery. ... We thank God that all the children are alive.″

Also Monday, Heritage High School students returned to class for the first time since last week’s shooting and picked up their yearbooks.

Ms. Daniele’s son, 15-year-old T.J. Solomon, faces 20 counts of aggravated assault, cruelty to children and weapons charges for Thursday’s shootings at the suburban Atlanta school.

All but one of the victims have been released from the hospital; four attended class on Monday. The last victim hospitalized is expected to be released later this week.

Ms. Daniele thanked Assistant Principal Cecil Brinkley, who persuaded her son to surrender after Solomon sank to his knees and put a .357-caliber revolver into his mouth.

``We will forever be grateful to him,″ said Ms. Daniele, who was accompanied by her husband, Robert Daniele, an executive at a trucking company.

The boy’s lawyer, Ed Garland, said: ``There’s no question he did the shooting. The question that everyone wants to know the answer to and that we want to know the answer to is why.″

Garland said Solomon was taking Ritalin, often prescribed for children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. One study found that some 1.5 million people ages 5 through 18, or 2.8 percent of the nation’s school-age children, take the drug.

Garland said he would try to keep Solomon _ being held at a youth detention center _ in the juvenile system. District Attorney Richard Read wants the case moved to an adult court so he can try Solomon as an adult.

A hearing on moving the case to adult court is set for June 1, but Garland said it will probably be delayed.

The Heritage High parking lot was full Monday morning, as were the buses bringing the students. Students were met by at least 20 sheriff’s deputies and several state troopers.

``It’s really freaky and really weird with cops at every door, but I can’t blame them for being here,″ said senior Matt Powell.

Katy Hinesley, a 17-year-old senior, said she did not want to come to school, but her mother talked her into it.

``I hated that her career at this wonderful school would end on the note that it ended Thursday,″ said Ms. Hinesley’s mother, Pam Hinesley.

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