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Boy Describes Classroom Scene

Sun., Feb. 4, 1996

Jon Lane shoved aside the barrel of the high-powered rifle and slammed the 14-year-old gunman against the classroom wall.

He held the teenager there while a classroom full of terrified Frontier Junior High School students rushed to safety, said student David Juergens, who witnessed the gym teacher’s heroics.

Nearly a dozen police officers converged on the room and immediately arrested Barry Loukaitis. Juergens’ teacher and two of his classmates were killed Friday. A third student was wounded.

“When (Loukaitis) walked in, it was all slow motion,” Juergens said. “I still can’t really (believe) that it happened.”

Juergens offered this account of the shooting:

Loukaitis, who had not been at school the rest of the day, burst into the first-floor classroom about 2 p.m. and opened fire.

“Someone said, ‘Barry’ and he went to the front of the room and started shooting,” the eighth-grader said.

Before Juergens knew what was happening, two of his classmates had been shot and the rest were scrambling frantically.

“I tipped my desk over and hid behind it,” Juergens said. “I didn’t know if he could see me. I didn’t even know if my desk would stop the bullet.”

Arnold Fritz, 15, was seated next to the door. A bullet ripped through his chest and killed him.

Natalie Hintz, 13, was two seats behind Fritz. Hintz, who suffered wounds to her arm, chest and stomach, remained in serious condition in Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center.

Across the room, Manuel Vela was gunned down next to his window seat. Loukaitis then turned the gun on teacher Leona Caires and shot her while she pleaded with him to put the gun down. Both died in the classroom.

Loukaitis forced the rest of the students to sit in a row of chairs in the back of the room.

While the students were lining up, Juergens came face to face with Loukaitis, who also had a revolver tucked into a holster on his belt.

“I looked up at him and he kind of chuckled at me,” said Juergens, who was still hiding behind his desk. “He told me just to sit in the next seat and I did.”

Moments later, Lane, who was teaching in a classroom down the hall, raced into the bullet-riddled classroom. Loukaitis told the gym teacher to lie on the floor so he could finish “organizing” students.

“He was saying, ‘Lane get down,”’ Juergens said. “Mr. Lane kept on telling him he was scared and didn’t want to do this.”

By this time police had arrived. Several officers waiting outside the classroom door pleaded with Loukaitis to put the gun down. They asked the teen why he was shooting.

“He told the cops, ‘Just give me 10 minutes and I’ll tell you.’ But, he never did tell,” Juergens said.

Loukaitis told Lane to stand back up and when the former high school wrestling champion complied, Loukaitis allowed the wounded Hintz to leave the classroom.

Shortly after, Loukaitis allowed Lane and two other students to move Fritz out to the hallway.

When Lane returned to the room, Loukaitis put a Ziplock bag and a rubber band on the end of the gun’s barrel and tried to put the gun in Lane’s mouth. Lane pushed the gun aside and Loukaitis tried again.

That’s when Lane brushed the gun away and pounced on Loukaitis.

“Mr. Lane got both hands on the gun and pushed it up against the wall,” Juergens said. “He told the cops to come in and us to run.”

, DataTimes



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