14-Year-Old Was Armed To The Teeth Had 3 Guns, 78 Rounds When Grabbed By Teacher
When 14-year-old Barry Loukaitas dressed for school Friday, he strapped two pistols to his side.
Beneath a dark trench coat, he tucked a deer rifle and 78 rounds of ammunition - enough to kill scores of classmates.
The ninth-grade Moses Lake honors student fired five shots within minutes of calmly walking into his afternoon algebra class at Frontier Junior High School, police say.
One bullet killed his teacher, two fatally wounded teenage boys and a fourth ripped through a girl’s chest and abdomen but didn’t kill her.
The fifth bullet hadn’t been fired when Jon Lane, a physical education teacher, burst into the room to find out why kids were shrieking and crying.
Lane, who ended up pinning Loukaitas to the wall, was hailed by many as a hero who prevented further bloodshed.
“Jon is a hero in all of our eyes,” said schools superintendent David Rawls.
But at a news conference Sunday, Lane, a former high school wrestler, admitted he first dived for cover behind the teacher’s large desk. The teacher it belonged to, Leona Caires, lay dead nearby.
“Barry started saying, ‘Mr. Lane, stand up,”’ said the silver-haired teacher, who sent gasps through the crowd with his first public recounting of the tragedy.
“I told him repeatedly, ‘Barry, I can’t stand up. I’m too afraid.”’
This was not the kid Lane, 48, remembered from an earlier P.E. class - the reserved, quiet boy who never caused problems in class.
This was a chillingly different Loukaitas, one who recently had tried to buy shotgun shells, telling a friend it was to shoot 15 to 20 small creatures.
“Am I going to be next?” Lane wondered.
Then another shot rang out, but Loukaitas assured the teacher he had fired accidentally, Lane said.
“He said, ‘If you don’t get up, I’m going to start shooting (more) students.”’
Lane convinced Loukaitas to point the high-powered, lever-action rifle toward the ceiling. Then he slowly rose to his feet.
Loukaitas demanded the telephone, then smashed it on the floor. He pointed the rifle at students and, one by one, ordered them to the back of the room, Lane said.
Lane decided to negotiate. First, he said, he talked Loukaitas into letting a wounded student, Natalie Hintz, 13, leave the room.
Next, a diabetic student was allowed to leave. Then Lane and two other students carried out Arnold Fritz, 15, who was wounded and later died.
“Barry seemed to be kind of in control, but kind of a mask,” Lane said.
Eventually, Loukaitas wrapped the end of his rifle with a plastic bag and tried taking Lane hostage by placing the gun in his mouth, Lane said.
Again, Lane told the boy he was afraid of being shot accidentally and convinced him to point the gun skyward. When Loukaitas did, Lane leapt forward, grabbed the student’s hands and pinned him against the wall.
Police, who were waiting outside, raced in as students ran out.
On Sunday, officers praised teachers and the school staff for their quick evacuation of schoolchildren.
“There is nothing the school could have done differently,” said Sgt. Dennis Duke. “Nothing.”
Authorities refused to say where Loukaitas had gotten the ammunition, rifle, .22-caliber revolver and .25-caliber semiautomatic pistol.
Frontier Junior High student David Juergens said Loukaitas recently had tried to buy some shotgun shells from him, saying he’d need to reload quickly.
Loukaitas had indicated he wanted to shoot 15 to 20 objects about the size of a dog at close range, Juergens said. “Which was about how many people are in that class.”
Juergens didn’t supply the ammunition. Loukaitas’ father collects guns, he said.
Police didn’t answer the question that haunts residents most of all: Why?
Could it be because Loukaitas’ parents, who own a downtown sandwich shop, filed for divorce in January?
Or was it, as a friend suggested, because Loukaitas’ grades were slipping and he was upset over a recent parent-teacher conference?
Some speculated Loukaitas was angry because another student, 14-year-old Manuel Vela, had picked on him.
Another report attributed the rampage to Loukaitas’ breakup with a girlfriend.
“I’m 99.9 percent sure that’s not true,” said his father, Terry Loukaitas, peering through a crack in the door of his home late Sunday. “Barry had no girlfriends that I’m aware of.”
He refused further comment, except to extend his sympathies to the victims and their families.
Police haven’t finished questioning Barry Loukaitas, who is scheduled to make his first appearance today in Juvenile Court.
Grant County Prosecutor John Knodell said he will file three counts of first-degree murder against Loukaitas today and possibly a charge of attempted murder or first-degree assault in connection with the Hintz shooting.
If a judge rules that Loukaitas should be prosecuted as an adult, he faces a possible life prison term without parole.
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The following fields overflowed: BYLINE = Jeanette White Staff writer Staff writer Brian Coddington contributed to this report.