CLEVELAND – A 14-year-old suspended student opened fire in his downtown high school Wednesday, wounding four people as terrified schoolmates hid in closets and bathrooms and huddled under laboratory desks. He then killed himself.
A fellow student at SuccessTech Academy alternative school said Asa H. Coon, who was suspended for fighting two days earlier, had made threats in front of students and teachers last week.
“He’s crazy. He threatened to blow up our school. He threatened to stab everybody,” Doneisha LeVert said. “We didn’t think nothing of it.”
Armed with two revolvers, Coon fired eight shots and may have targeted teachers, said Police Chief Michael McGrath. Police found a duffel bag stocked with ammunition and three knives in a bathroom but found no suicide note, he said.
Parents were angry that firearms got into a school equipped with metal detectors that students said were intermittently used.
Coon had a history of mental health problems and threatened to commit suicide last year while in a mental health center, according to juvenile court records obtained by the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
He spent time in two juvenile facilities after a domestic violence episode and was also given home detention, and he was suspended from school last year for trying to injure a student, the paper reported.
Officials said two teachers and two students were shot, and that a 14-year-old girl fell and hurt her knee while running out of the school.
Witnesses said the shooter moved through the converted five-story downtown office building, working his way up through the first two floors of administrative offices to the third floor of classrooms. Officials said he was wearing a Marilyn Manson concert shirt, black jeans and black-painted finger nails.
Student Frances Henderson, 14, said she often got into arguments with Coon, who once told her, “I got something for you all.” He would often wear a trench coat, black boots and a dog collar, she said.
SuccessTech Academy is an alternative high school in the public school district that stresses technology and entrepreneurship.
The school has about 240 students, most of them black. Coon was white, and Henderson, the student who said she frequently argued with him, is black, but she said she didn’t believe race played a role in the shootings.