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Two Teens in Custody After Taking Class Hostage, Firing at Principal

May 18, 1993

PRINCETON, W.Va. (AP) _ Two students smuggled guns and military rations into their high school, took more than a dozen classmates and a teacher hostage and shot at the principal before being arrested Monday, officials said.

The main gunman, a 15-year-old carrying a revolver, a handgun and a sawed- off shotgun, lined up students as if he was going to execute them and made a biology teacher kneel at one point during the two-hour ordeal, one of the students said.

No one was hurt. The motive wasn’t clear.

The main gunman was tackled by another student as he put a gun in his pocket, Superintendent Debbie Akers said. He was taken into custody and charged with delinquency stemming from kidnapping and shooting in public, police said.

The accomplice, who carried a pistol, fled after the shot was fired and also was arrested. He was identified as Kevin LaRose, 18, of Princeton, and he was charged with kidnapping, said police Lt. Casey Martin.

The students arrived late for a final-period biology class at Princeton High School, closed the door behind them and took out the guns, Akers said.

The main gunman, a 15-year-old, summoned Principal George Keatley over the public address system to discuss his demands, which included $2 million to $3 million, more weapons and hand grenades, Martin said.

He also asked for saline solution and sedatives for his hostages.

Keatley talked with the boy and as he was leaving the classroom, the student fired the shotgun, narrowly missing the principal.

Keatley said the weapons were smuggled into the school in a gym bag that also included military rations.

Some students in the full classroom were allowed to leave during the standoff but about 16 people ages 15 and 16 were held until the gunman’s capture, Akers said.

″He was lining us up in a row and he was going to shoot us,″ said student Linsey Mann. She said the gunman also made a biology teacher kneel during the ordeal.

Rodney Allen Vest, 17, who overpowered the gunman, said he acted out of instinct. ″I just hit him from behind and got both guns from him,″ Vest said.

Another boy, Larry Hurst, snatched guns off a desk while Vest held the student.

″Me and Rodney talked about jumping on him the whole period. Rodney said, ‘Let’s get him.’ And he jumped on him and I ran over to the desk where he had his weapons. If he got loose from Rodney, it was either going to be me or him. I was going to shoot him,″ Hurst said.

Keatley said, ″I think the young man that threw this fellow to the floor, you’d have to call him a hero. He’s got enough brazenness about him that he’s going to do what he thinks is right.″

But Martin said, ″It was a very stupid move. I’m sure he thinks he’s a hero and everything, but when you have somebody there like that, it’s very dangerous. Luckily, things happened the way they did.″

Princeton is 75 miles southeast of Charleston.

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