Violence in Our Schools

August 1, 1987 through July 31, 1988

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To report a threat of school violence before the instigator has a chance to act on his/her intentions, please contact Speak Up at 1-866-SPEAKUP (that is 1-866-773-2587)

I would like to thank all of the Survivors and others who have contacted me with information about school violence.  I do appreciate the help, for, without their help, several of these occurrences would not be here.

One other thing I would like to ask of those who read over this list of tragedies is this: If you can provide me with any more details of any of these incidents, I would greatly appreciate the information. Or, if you know of another violent act at a school that is not on this list, please forward that information to me as well.  The link to my e-mail is above.

Franklin D. Roosevelt and David W. Carter High Schools, Dallas, Texas

Friday, September 25, 1987

These two stalwarts of Texas 5A high school football slugged it out to 17-17 tie this evening at Sprague Stadium.  When the game was over, students who didn't even play in the game began slugging each other, and the slugfest became the worst football-related incident in the history of the Dallas Independent School District.  Last night, junior varsity football players for Roosevelt threatened two junior varsity football players for Carter during their game.  Tonight, the Roosevelt players spotted the Carter players in the stands of the stadium and threatened them again.  One of them even produced a gun and aimed it at a Carter student.  The Carter students were able to leave the stands, but as they were preparing to leave the stadium later that night, they noticed the Roosevelt students standing by one of the gates.  They reported the earlier confrontation to a security guard, and he told the students to exit the stadium by a different gate.  They did, but the Roosevelt students attacked them with knives as they approached their car in the parking lot.  The slugfest between Roosevelt and Carter students started about 10:30 p.m. near the rear of the stadium.  Only a few students participated in the fight, but dozens were nearby watching it unfold.  A total of six students were injured, two were stabbed, one had a head wound, and the other three had minor cuts to their bodies.  The two stabbed students, one 16-year-old from Roosevelt and the other a 17-year-old from Hillcrest High School, were transported to Methodist Medical Center for treatment.  The student with the head wound was from Carter and he, too, went to the hospital. Of the three remaining injured students, two attended Roosevelt, and one attended Carter.  The Hillcrest student had gone to both schools previously.  The students ranged in age from 15 to 18.   The district's assistant superintendent for secondary instruction said that the two small groups of students who were doing the fighting knew each other well.  There were 15 to 20 police officers at the stadium when the fight began, and they were able to restore order in a short time.  On Tuesday, both schools were sanctioned for the rest of the football season.  This allowed the schools to continue to play their football games, provided another fight didn't break out.  Five of the six injured students are junior varsity football players, and they will not be able to play high school sports for the next three years. Sprague Stadium is not located on any school campus, and that is why both schools are listed (and counted) here.

Source: Dallas Morning News - Post-game Fight Hurts 6; Dallas Morning News - Carter, Roosevelt Put on Probation

Hillcrest High School, Dallas, Texas

Monday, September 28, 1987

Two days later another fight sent more students from Dallas to the hospital with injuries.  At a weekend concert, two 15-year-old boys exchanged heated words over an unknown topic.  Today, when they came across each other in one the school's hallways, the fight turned physical.  One of the boy's had his jaw broken, and the other had internal bleeding in his right eye.  Both of them were transported to Presbyterian Hospital for treatment.  When police interviewed them, the boys originally said that ten other students had attacked them in the hallway, but further investigation found only three instigators.  The injured boys dropped charges on Wednesday. (The news story didn't state if the two injured boys were also instigators.)

Source: Dallas Morning News - Hillcrest High Fight Involved Only Three, Police Say

West End Christian (Elementary) School, Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Tuesday, February 2, 1988

James Larry Harvey asked John Rhodes Jr. if he wanted to make some money.  Mr. Rhodes was standing at the unemployment office at the time Mr. Harvey approached him.  Both of the men are 42-years-old.  Mr. Rhodes said yes, and Mr. Harvey drove them to the West End Christian School.  At 8:40 this morning, the two donned ski masks entered the elementary portion of the school, a private academy run by West End Baptist Church.  They were armed with a rifle and two pistols.  James and John commandeered the first, third, fourth and fifth grades classrooms and held almost 80 students, four teachers, and an aide hostage.  They demanded a meeting with President Ronald Reagan, Governor Guy Hunt, and Mayor Al DuPont.  Al, being the closest official of the three, donned a bulletproof vest and talked with the gunmen twice, but President Reagan and Governor Hunt did not make an appearance.  Assistant Police Chief Ken Swindle was the chief negotiator for this hostage crisis.  He convinced John to give himself up by offering him $291 out of his own pocket.  John surrendered around 1:00.  James released over 40 students an hour later.  At 3:30 p.m., he worked out a deal with police to be interviewed by AP news reporter Hoyt Harwell in exchange for nine children and Judy Dunn, a pregnant teacher he was holding. Hoyt entered the school and talked with James.  During their talk, James stood in the doorway of classroom and pointed the rifle above Hoyt's head as he stood in the hallway.  The children, who were out of Hoyt's line of sight, remained quiet.  James, a Vietnam War veteran with a generalized concern with the government being corrupt and himself not being treated fairly, said, "I'm asking for government immunity and a pardon.  I want to get my message out to the people.  I'm putting my life on the line to do this.  I'm willing to die.  There are people on the street who don't have a place to sleep or anything to eat.  I'm doing this for them.  Things are awfully wrong, and nobody is doing anything about it.  That's why I'm doing this.  This is a political act, not a criminal act."  Later, James released two more students.  He asked for pizza and soda for his hostages, and it was delivered.  Nearly 12 hours after the siege began, police tricked James into coming outside the school.  They showed him a video of Governor Guy Hunt giving him a pardon.  He was still holding 26 students and one teacher, Mary Alice Blanton, at this time.  James was told that he could go outside and be allowed to have a news conference.  He led the children to the outside door, handed over his guns to the police officers who were on the other side of the doorway and stepped outside the school.  Once he stepped outside, police slammed the door shut, tackled James and arrested him.  It was now 8:30 in the evening.  As he was being led away, he screamed out, "I trusted you! You betrayed me!"  The next day, James and John were charged with 84 counts of kidnapping and held on $8.4 million bond each.  James was taken to Taylor Hardin Secure Medical Facility for psychiatric evaluation while John was held at the Tuscaloosa County Jail.

Source: San Jose Mercury News - 60-80 Schoolchildren, Teacher Held Hostage by Gunman in Ala., Houston Chronicle - 60 Children Held Hostage at School; Houston Chronicle - Hostages Free After Lawmen Grab Gunman; The Seattle Times - Children Unharmed in Takeover - Gunman Pleaded Plight of Homeless; Detroit Free Press - Teacher ,Kids Held in Plea for Homeless; Washington Post - Alabama Hostage-Taker is Charged with Kidnapping, Confined for Tests

Pinellas Park High School, Pinellas Park, Florida

Thursday, February 11, 1988

Jason McCoy, 15, was suspended yesterday from school for cursing a teacher.  This morning, he broke into Pinellas County Sheriff Deputy Charles W. Parker’s home and stole two .38-caliber revolvers from his bedroom.  Charles was on vacation and was unaware of the theft.  He then gave his friend, 15-year-old Jason Edward Harless, one of the revolvers. Today, the two Jason’s returned to Pinellas Park High School during lunchtime with the guns.  School officials saw Jason McCoy on campus and called police for a trespassing charge.  Assistant principals Mr. Bailey and Nancy Blackwelder confronted Jason McCoy about being on campus when he shouldn’t be. It was about 11:50 a.m. and nearly 500 students were eating lunch in the cafeteria when things went bad.  Physical education department intern Joseph Bloznalis saw the exchange of words escalating out of control and moved in closer.  Assistant Principal Richard Allen had also become aware of the escalating situation and began moving toward the group.  Assistant principals Mr. Bailey and Nancy Blackwelder grabbed Jason McCoy.  Jason Harless was grabbed by Joseph but was still able to fire a round into the floor.  The bullet ricocheted and grazed Joseph's leg.   Jason Harless told them to let him go and fired off more rounds from the stolen revolver.  Three shots struck Nancy, two in the abdomen and one in her right arm.  And one shot tore into Richard’s head.  The students in the cafeteria panicked and ran for cover.  Some of them flipped the tables over to use them as shields while others ran down the halls into classrooms.  Student David Gatchel was standing close by Nancy when she was shot, so close her blood splattered on his hand.  He tried to stop Jason McCoy as he began to leave the cafeteria, but he was kicked hard in the stomach and fell to the floor.  Stephanie Pettinato was selling Valentine’s Day carnations in the lobby when the shooting began.  Her club advisor had pulled her to the floor, but the 18-year-old co-ed could still see the events unfolding in the cafeteria.  She believed Jason Harless was going to shoot her, so she got up and ran outside.  Jason Harless was right behind her.  The police had arrived by now and were in front of Stephanie.  Officers Dominic Coloutes, 24, and Brett Shields, 23, drew their weapons and fired nine times on Jason Harless, hitting him in the right shoulder.  Dominic was carrying a 9mm handgun while Brett was carrying a .38-caliber revolver.  Jason Harless lost his balance and fell into some bushes where the officers were able to disarm and arrest him.  Stephanie rushed back into the cafeteria and saw Nancy sitting on the floor in a puddle of blood.  Richard was lying nearby, blood pouring out of his head wound.  David was treated at Bayfront Medical Center for a rib injury.  Nancy and Joseph were transported to Humana Hospital Northside and treated for their wounds.  Richard was transported to Bayfront Medical Center in critical condition.  Jason Harless was treated on the scene for his wounded shoulder.  Jason McCoy fled the school completely, not having fired a single shot from his stolen gun and loosing it in the process.  Jason McCoy broke into his girlfriend’s house, a mile away from the school, and was now brandishing a third .38-caliber revolver.  Police believe Jason McCoy broke back into Charles Parker’s home and stole the third revolver before entering his girlfriend’s house.  The police called Pinellas Park’s school resource officer Leroy Kelly, who had taken the day off to recover from the flu.  Leroy was able to talk Jason McCoy into surrendering an hour later.  Jason Harless was charged with five counts of attempted murder and one count of armed burglary.  Jason McCoy was charged with three counts of attempted murder and one count of armed burglary.  The Jason’s were taken to the Pinellas County Juvenile Detention Center and wouldn’t talk to reporters about the shooting.  A week after being shot in the head, 53-year-old Richard Allen died.  Jason Harless was sentenced to 17 years in adult prison.  Jason McCoy was sentenced to six years in adult prison but served his time in a “youthful offenders” prison.


Nancy Blackwelder, 35

Joseph Bloznalis, 22

David Gatchel, 17

instigator Jason Harless, 15

 Source: St. Petersburg Times – Student, 15, Shoots Three at High School; St. Petersburg Times – Student Shoots Three Teachers at High School St. Petersburg Times – Student Spent Time in Mental Hospital; St. Petersburg Times – Boys Found Guns in Deputy’s Bedroom; St. Petersburg Times – Dealing with Tragedy; Three Survivors of Pinellas Park High School

Hubbard Woods Elementary School, Winnetka, Illinois

Friday, May 20, 1988

At the end of the week, Laurie Wasserman Dann, 30, started the day off as an arsonist and ended it a murderer.  She set a fire at Ravina Elementary School in Highland Park about 9 a.m., but no injuries were reported.  Laurie then tried to enter a nearby day nursery while carrying a can of gasoline.  Staff members were able to keep her out of the day nursery.  She then drove to the home where she works and started another fire.  The family was planning to move soon, and Laurie would then be out of a job.  The mother and two of her children were in the basement of the house when the fire started.  They were able to escape through a window.  She then drove four blocks to Hubbard Woods Elementary School and invaded a boys restroom around 10:45 a.m.  She was carrying a .32-caliber handgun, a .22 caliber handgun, and a third unidentified handgun.  She shot one boy and left him there bleeding from the wound.  Laurie then went into a classroom and told the teacher that a boy had been shot in the restroom.  She then went into another room, this time, full of second graders.  She forced several children into a line against the wall and said, "This is what I'm going to do.  I'm going to teach you all about life." Laurie opened fire with her .32-caliber handgun and fired randomly at the students.   One of the bullets struck Nicholas B. Corwin in his chest, killing him instantly.  Other bullets struck Mark Tebourek in his neck; Kathryn Ann Miller in her left wrist and left chest and Robert Trossman in his left chest and stomach.  The most seriously wounded student was Lindsay Clark Fisher as bullets entered her right chest, abdomen and the artery to her liver.  After 10 minutes of shooting, Laurie left the school and entered the nearby home of Ruth Ann Andrew via the kitchen.  Ruth was talking to her son Phillip when Laurie came in, and she was being attacked.  Phillip began to talk with Laurie and was able to persuade her to call her mother.  While this was taking place, Ruth Ann slipped out of the house and called police.  Laurie and Phillip stayed in the house for over 8 hours before she wounded Phillip.  Laurie ended the day by killing herself with a gunshot wound to her head around 7:30 p.m.


Nicholas B. Corwin, 8

killer Laurie Wasserman Dann, 30


Phillip Andrew, 20

Lindsay Clark Fisher, 8

Kathryn Ann Miller, 7

Mark Tebourek, 8

Robert Trossman, 6

Unidentified 8-year-old boy

Source: Dallas Morning News - Suicide Ends Deadly Grade School Rampage

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