Prosecutors Want to Try Teen Suspect in School Shooting as an Adult
NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS
Feb. 05, 1996
MOSES LAKE, Wash. (AP) _ Angered by the school shooting that left his daughter wounded and three people dead, Phillip Hintz said he would like to see the 14-year-old suspect tried as an adult.
``I think a person who's 14 years old knows exactly what he's doing,'' Phillip Hintz said Sunday at the hospital where his daughter, Natalie, is recovering from a gunshot wound that nearly severed her arm.
Ninth-grader Barry Loukaitas was to appear in juvenile court today as prosecutors sought to transfer his case to adult court.
Prosecutor John Knodell said Sunday he intended to charge Loukaitas with three counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder. If convicted as an adult, Loukaitas could face life in prison.
Killed in Friday afternoon's rifle attack was Frontier Junior High algebra teacher Leona Caires, 49, the mother of four, and students Manuel Vela and Arnold Fritz, both 14.
This community of 11,500, located in a potato-farming region between Seattle and Spokane, struggled to make sense of the tragedy. Some classmates said Loukaitas had often been picked on by other kids, but police offered no motive. Loukaitas was described as a quiet, good student who had had no previous trouble with the law.
The shootings, which came toward the end of the day, apparently were unrelated to drugs or gangs, said police Sgt. Dennis Duke. Loukaitas had skipped his previous classes Friday and showed up for algebra class opening fire.
``People just want some kind of truth to grab onto,'' Duke said. ``This was a random act of violence.''
Dressed in a trench coat and carrying a hunting rifle, Loukaitas allegedly shot Vela and Fritz and then Hintz. Caires was shot last. A math teacher was able to get the gun away.
A single bullet tore through Natalie's arm, her chest wall and exploded internally, damaging her liver, her diaphragm and her kidneys, said he mother, Shannon Hintz.
Doctors reattached the nerves and arteries during 12 hours of surgery in the hope of saving the limb.
``We're very thankful she's alive,'' Mrs. Hintz said.
Officials took groups of students into the school all weekend to help them overcome any fears.
School Superintendent David Rawles plans to study ways to make schools safer, but he said there was only so much they could do.
``All the bars, metal detectors and security guards in the world can't protect us,'' Rawles said.