Caleb Sharpe flipped a coin and it came up heads. So the Freeman High School sophomore loaded a semi-automatic rifle and ammunition into a golf bag, embarking on a path that would leave one young man dead and see the 15-year-old Sharpe transformed into a notorious school shooter, according to court documents released Wednesday.
Had the coin come up tails, Sharpe told investigators, “he would not do it and never think about it again.”
Documents released Wednesday show that Sharpe, 15, told detectives after the Sept. 13 shooting at Freeman that he had been watching documentaries of other school shootings, including Columbine and Sandy Hook, for about a year. He watched a documentary called “Mind of a Rampage Killer” about 10 times, according to court records.
Clad in a dark blue T-shirt and saggy brown pants, Sharpe appeared in Spokane County Juvenile Court on Wednesday as prosecutors filed 51 new counts of second-degree assault charges relating to the other students who were nearby that day.
Those charges were added to the first-degree murder case for the killing of 15-year-old Sam Strahan, and three counts of attempted first-degree murder for the shootings of three girls.
Although state law mandates that Sharpe have a hearing within 14 days of being charged to determine whether he will stand trial as an adult, Superior Court Judge Michael Price set that hearing for April 2, 2018.
Both Spokane County Prosecutor Larry Haskell and defense attorney Bevan Maxey agreed to waive the rule.
“I have all kinds of concerns for him remaining in custody,” Maxey said. “But to have everybody properly prepared, that’s the priority. It’s not a matter to rush to court in 14 days.”
Sharpe turns 16 on Oct. 10. Maxey said he didn’t want to comment about the ongoing case, but he believes the matter should stay in juvenile court.
“We prefer that he be handled as a juvenile,” Maxey said. “That’s what he is.”
Sharpe’s parents and several family friends attended the hearing. They did not comment.
“It’s been hard on everybody involved,” Maxey said. The Sharpe family “really does care about everyone else, not just themselves.”
Court documents reflect a troubled youth who became obsessed with violence.
Not long after the Sept. 13 shooting, sheriff’s detectives Scott Bonney and Marc Melville interviewed Sharpe. They wrote that Sharpe told them about watching documentaries on past school shootings.
Sharpe “concluded that Eric (Harris) and Dylan (Klebold)” – the perpetrators of the Columbine High School shooting in 1999 – “were stupid because they were ‘overblowing it so much.’ Sharpe said he began to like their plan more and more,” court documents state. “He watched about Sandy Hook and decided these people were not smart, because they killed themselves in the end.”
On the day of the shooting, Sharpe said he loaded an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle into a golf bag to conceal it. In his left pocket, he placed a .32-caliber handgun. Both guns “belonged to his father, and he took them without permission,” the detectives wrote.
Sharpe said he knew Sam Strahan and they had been friends, but they had drifted apart. Sharpe “had been building up anger at people for months, even years, and he had been thinking about doing this for two years,” detectives wrote.
On Sept. 12, he flipped the coin. Detective Mike Drapeau noted that when he searched Sharpe’s home, he found a quarter on the floor. It was tails-side up. He also found a penny, heads up.
Sharpe then told the detectives details about how he loaded the golf bag onto the school bus and later approached the hallway. He pulled out the AR-15, which jammed, and he could not make it work, so he discarded it and pulled the pistol out of his coat.
At about the same time, he noticed Sam Strahan near him and shot him once in the abdomen and once in the cheek, killing him. “He didn’t really care if (Strahan) was dead or anything, so he left SDS (the Decedent) and began firing down the hall into a crowd of what he estimated to be about fifteen students huddled by the lockers,” detectives wrote. “Sharpe said he shot three other students whose names he did not know.”
Sharpe said he did not intend to kill himself, and he denied being a victim of physical or sexual abuse.
“Sharpe said the plan went exactly as intended,” detectives wrote. “His plan was to shoot some people at school, just like he did. Sharpe said he was not planning on shooting any particular people; he just planned on shooting people in general.”
Previously, Sharpe had given other friends notes indicating that he was about to do something that may cause others harm.
Strahan was killed just two months after his father, 49-year-old Scott Strahan, was killed on Father’s Day in a tragic accident. Strahan’s family gathered Saturday to remember Sam.
Upon searching the Sharpe home, Drapeau wrote that he found several journal entries written by the boy, who had just begun his sophomore year.
In a notebook, Drapeau found several handwritten notes, including a diagram of the upstairs hallway at Freeman High School. Written inside was “Killing is fun and I enjoy it,” “I am smarter than the cops,” along with a hand-drawn Punisher logo and the phrase “wait till school.”
Punisher, depicted as a skull, is a violent, fictional Marvel Comics character obsessed with vengeance.
In a second notebook, detectives found that Sharpe had written the full rifleman’s creed and select quotes from the movie “Full Metal Jacket.” He also wrote a list, which was a who’s who of school shooters.
“I am the one who deserves to live, but I still need Caleb until I kill all those … kids,” Sharpe wrote, according to court documents. “Then Caleb will finally die while I live on even if it is in prison I will live on.”
In his yearbook, detectives found an “X Kill” written on photographs of students, Drapeau wrote, noting that there were 26 students whose photographs had been crossed out.
One of those photos was of Sam Strahan, he wrote.