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Shots Fired in Idaho High School

April 16, 1999

NOTUS, Idaho (AP) _ A high school sophomore fired two shotgun blasts in a school hallway today before he began babbling incoherently and was taken into custody. No one was injured.

Notus High School was evacuated and its 200 students dismissed shortly after the shootings about 8:20 a.m. in this tiny southwestern Idaho farming community.

Shawn Cooper, 16, was taken into custody after he dropped the .12-gauge semiautomatic shotgun he had brought from home on the bus, wrapped in a blanket.

Why Cooper fired the shots wasn’t immediately clear, but Canyon County sheriff’s officials said he had a history of mental illness and had been on medication. Sheriff George Nourse said rumors had circulated Thursday that the boy had threatened other students and had a list of those he wanted to kill.

``I don’t think a lot of kids took him seriously,″ Nourse said.

``I hollered at him, `Put the gun down, put the gun down.′ He had a knife in his other hand. He was talking to me; he was babbling,″ Nourse said. ``He stared at me. He never took his eyes off me. He was babbling incoherently.″

Cooper was taken into custody and brought to a hospital where he was being evaluated, school officials said.

Students scurried out of the school building after the first shot was fired in a foyer outside the principal’s office. Before all the students could get outside, the second shot was fired, blasting a three-inch hole in a metal door leading to the gym.

``If that second gunshot had been a couple of feet higher, it would have hit some students,″ said student body president Howard Pennington, 18.

About 500 people live in Notus, which is about 30 miles west of Boise.

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