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Four Students Shot at Okla. School

December 6, 1999

FORT GIBSON, Okla. (AP) _ A 13-year-old student opened fire with a semiautomatic handgun outside his middle school this morning, wounding four classmates before being subdued by a teacher, authorities said.

A fifth student reportedly suffered bumps and bruises.

The wounded were taken to hospitals in Tulsa and Muskogee. None of the injuries appeared life-threatening.

``I understand he just got there and decided to start shooting, pulled a gun out and started shooting,″ Muskogee County sheriff’s Deputy Terry Cragg said. ``He doesn’t even know who it was he shot. There was not a hate thing. I asked him why. He said, `I don’t know.‴

Students were gathered outside before the 8 a.m. start of classes when the shooting began.

It was not known how many shots were fired.

As science teacher Ronnie Holuby approached, the boy dropped his empty 9 mm semiautomatic handgun, authorities said. Holuby, who also serves as the school’s safety officer, grabbed the boy’s arms and pinned him against a brick wall.

Later, the small slender boy, whose name was not released, was led into a Muskogee County courtroom for a closed arraignment. Dressed in a blue long-sleeved shirt and khaki pants, he walked solemnly between two deputies, keeping his head down. It was not clear what charges he faced.

In Washington, President Clinton told reporters that investigators from the FBI and ATF were on the scene.

``Our prayers are with each of the children and their families,″ Clinton said. ``Right now there are no fatalities, only people who are wounded, and we hope it will stay that way.″

Gov. Frank Keating initially issued a statement saying the shooting ``must serve as a call to arms for Oklahoma’s educators, parents, community and religious leaders to address the root causes of what is happening to our families and young people.″

He later issued a revised statement deleting the reference to a ``call to arms″ after a reporter asked if that was a poor choice of words. He substituted the phrase ``wake-up call.″

At Tulsa Regional Medical Center, a 12-year-old boy was in fair condition with gunshot wounds to both arms. A 12-year-old girl was in fair condition at St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa with a gunshot wound to the cheek.

Muskogee Regional Medical Center said it was treating two 13-year-old boys _ one for a gunshot wound to the forearm, the other a leg wound.

Justine Hurst, a 13-year-old eighth-grader, stood outside the school with her father, Jim, hours after the shooting. She said she knew two of the victims and the shooting suspect.

``He seemed like a really nice person,″ she said, identifying the shooter as a seventh-grader in her school. ``He had a lot of friends.″

Authorities offered no details about the suspect except his age. Investigators didn’t know who the gun was registered to. They obtained a search warrant to search some school lockers.

Justine arrived at the school just after the shooting happened, as students were being rushed inside into the school cafeteria. She said backpacks lay strewn everywhere.

``Everyone was screaming. Everyone was crying.″

She said some of the children thought the gunfire was the firecrackers left over from Saturday’s football game when Fort Gibson played Weatherford for a state high school championship.

The windows of the school were still painted with signs from the game, including ``We’re cheering for you.″ Fort Gibson lost 46-0 to Weatherford.

Eighth-grade student Greg Pruitt was walking on the other side of building from where the shooting took place and heard what sounded like firecrackers. A vice principal began yelling for kids to get inside cafeteria.

``We heard one girl screaming. We saw smoke coming from the cement,″ Greg said.

Fort Gibson is a town of about 3,500 about 50 miles southeast of Tulsa. About 450 students attend the middle school.

A school official said all of the district’s 1,850 students were sent home for the day. School was planned again Tuesday.

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