School shooting suspect recorded video day before attack, searched for school shooting memes: prosecutors
The nearly two-minute video included a .45-caliber handgun and a .22-caliber handgun with a suppressor.
“Tomorrow’s Friday, you know what that means,” the boy said in the video, according to prosecutors. “I have to take other people’s lives before I take my own.”
Details of the video came to light during a Monday juvenile court hearing in Hamilton County. Prosecutors said the 13-year-old came to school on May 25 with the weapons in his backpack and stored the backpack in his locker.
During his second-period class, taught by Jason Seaman, the boy took a quiz and finished early. He asked to be excused, went to his locker and grabbed the backpack. He then went to the restroom with the backpack, removed the weapons and returned to class.
He opened fire with the .22-caliber handgun, striking Seaman, who threw a small basketball at him in response. Seaman was standing next to Ella Whistler, who had a question about the quiz.
As the 13-year-old continued firing, an eighth-grade teacher passed by and saw the commotion. The teacher called the school office and requested a resource officer before calling 911.
Whistler survived after getting shot seven times. Seaman was shot three times in the process of stopping the attack by tackling the teen.
Later in the hearing, the suspect’s mother took the stand. She praised Seaman for taking quick action, saying he saved several lives that day, including her son’s.
“(His father) and I can’t thank you enough,” she said.
The mother said the morning of May 25 started like any other school day. Her son was looking forward to an upcoming band concert. She told the court that the family keeps guns in the home and considered them responsible gun owners. The boy’s father taught her son about gun safety, though the mother admitted she herself didn’t know much about guns.
(Jason Seaman and Ella Whistler. Photo: WXIN)
The firearms were kept in a gun safe in the basement, next to where the teen played video games like Call of Duty. Photos taken after the shooting showed the gun safe unlocked, with the keys still hanging.
The teen’s defense attorneys read a statement in court on his behalf. In it, he apologized to Whistler and Seaman:
Sorry if I’m not a very good writer. What happened on May 25th was a tragedy. And, if I could, I would take it all back. I’m sorry to all the people I scared and hurt. I feel so bad for what I put you through, and I wish it would have never happened.
I am so sorry to Ella and Mr. Seaman.
Ella, I’m sorry for the pain I caused you. I wish I could have just been the geeky jokester who annoyed you. I know you’ll always be affected by what I did, and I want you to know I am terribly sorry. Mr. Seaman, I’m sorry that I hurt you, and scared you. I thought you were a good teacher, and I appreciate you always being nice and fair to me. Thanks for protecting everyone, and probably saving my life too.
Your honor, I can’t explain why I did what I did. I know what I did was terrible, and maybe unforgivable. I’m ashamed about what I did. I want to get help to understand why this happened, so it never happens again. I want to show everyone that I’m going to do what I have to do to figure things out. Once I do, I hope for a chance to live a normal life, and try to make up for what I’ve done. I recognize the terrible things I have done, and how it has effected everyone. I will accept any consequence you give me.
I want to thank everyone who has tried to help me, my mom and dad, and the rest of my family, Pastor Joe, and all the staff at the juvenile detention center.
I want everyone to know that I’m sorry for what I’ve done.
His attorneys are asking the court to send him to a residential program than a juvenile facility.
Last month, the suspect had Lego removed from his detention cell, because he had built what appeared to be an assault rifle. A review of his internet search history turned up searches for Sandy Hook, Columbine, school shooting memes and a blueprint of the high school, according to the IndyStar.
After the hearing, the case will then go into disposition, which is the juvenile court equivalent of sentencing. The disposition hearing is set for Nov. 14 at 9 a.m.
The worst-case for the suspect would be getting sent to a juvenile detention facility, but the judge could also order the teen to serve community service, spend time in a mental health treatment center, or serve probation.
If the teen had been charged as an adult, he would have faced 11 counts, including attempted murder and aggravated battery. But his case cannot be heard in adult court because under current Indiana law a child who is 13 can only be waived to adult court if his attempt to commit murder “is actually successful,” according to Hamilton County Prosecutor D. Lee Buckingham.
Someone as young as 12-years-old can be tried as an adult for murder, but the statute has been interpreted to not include attempted murder, he said.
“I hope that some of the kids and the teachers in the community get peace and feel that they can move forward,” said Noblesville West Middle School parent Stephanie Lambert. “I want him to be assessed properly, I want everything to be done and researched and just so that we can all be safe.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.