Police Seek Motive in Triple Slaying at Washington School

Article Tools
  • PrintPrinter-Friendly
  • EmailEmail Article
  • ReprintReprints
  • CommentsComments

With a teacher and two students dead and a 14-year-old boy jailed on murder charges, the town of Moses Lake, Wash., last week mourned its losses and struggled to come to grips with what had happened.

Police said they didn't know why a 9th grader at Frontier Junior High School walked into an algebra class Feb. 2 and opened fire with a shotgun. Teacher Leona D. Caires, 49, and students Arnold Fritz and Manuel Vela, both 14, were killed, and a 13-year-old student was wounded.

The shooting ended when a physical-education teacher, Jon Lane, entered the room. After a brief standoff, Mr. Lane, 48, overpowered the suspect and held him until police arrived.

Officials in the town of 15,000, about 150 miles east of Seattle, moved quickly after the shootings to handle the crisis.

"Counseling was available the night of the shooting for anyone who needed help," said P.J. De Benedetti, a spokes-man for the 5,600-student Moses Lake schools.

The local mental-health service provided counselors last week to assist grieving students.

Schools were closed Feb. 8 so that teachers could attend Ms. Caires' funeral in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Funerals for the two students were held on Monday and Tuesday of last week. The student who was wounded remained hospitalized in serious condition.

The 14-year-old suspect was charged with three counts of first-degree murder and one count of first-degree assault, police said. A hearing is scheduled for Feb. 20 to determine whether he will be charged as an adult.

--Cheryl Gamble

Vol. 15, Issue 21

Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Back to Top Back to Top

Most Popular Stories