Violence in Our Schools

August 1, 1984 through July 31, 1985


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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 really 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.


Richland High School, North Richland Hills, Texas

Friday, September 28, 1984

Homecoming is a time for alumni to return to remember all the good times they had with their friends.  1981 alumnus Barry Wayne Shaw did not have good times on his mind when we went back to his alma mater this morning.  He came carrying a 9mm Uzi submachine gun, an AR-15 strapped across his neck and a .45-caliber pistol in a shoulder harness looking for Ms. Ball, his English teacher.  She had made fun of his ROTC boots and embarrassed him regularly in class.  Ms. Ball's classroom had recently moved across the campus, something Barry didn't know at the time.  He ran across the roof and jumped down into the courtyard before entering the building and starting his search.  After some time, he finally gave up the hunt, yelled out "Homecoming, homecoming," and sprayed the school's foyer with 30 rounds of ammunition.  His bullets struck windows and the ceiling, but none of the dozen or so students who were also in the foyer at the time.  However, a male student was injured by flying debris.  Principal Clark arrived after Barry had fired his last shot to confront him.  Barry threw both rifles at Ray, saying "I did it."  Principal Clark had Barry sit down and wait for the police while he inspected his students for injuries.  Barry offered no resistance.  He was wearing a white t-shirt under a khaki-colored vest with flap pockets, blue jeans and cowboy boots when he was arrested.  That night, Richland beat Arlington Lamar 14-3 in the traditional homecoming football game. Over the weekend, it was discovered that Barry had killed Dallas karate instructor Jimmy Glen Wilson and wounded Rudy Smedley earlier in the week with the submachine gun.  He was charged with two counts of intent to commit murder, one count of retaliation and one count of murder.  Bond was denied. On the following Monday, October 1, 1984, a 16-year-old male student phoned in a bomb threat at Richland High School's cafeteria.  Fire and police officials arrived and searched for the bomb, but none was found.  Because of the design of the school, with the cafeteria well away from students, the students were not evacuated.

Source: Mid Cities Daily News and two Survivors of Richland High School


California State University - Fullerton, Fullerton, California

Saturday, October 13, 1984

Professor Edward Lee Cooperman and Minh Van Lam, one of his students, was in the professor's office today practicing with a .25-caliber handgun.  Edward was showing Minh how to take a gun away from some one when it went off.  The bullet struck down the 48-year-old professor and he died.  Police arrested Minh, 20, and charged him with murder.  His first trial ended in a hung jury, so he asked Superior Court Judge Richard K. Beacom to decide the case without a jury.  He was convicted on March 28, 1985 and sentenced to three years in prison.  This sentence took into account that he had already been in prison for nine months waiting for his trial.  Minh was a model prisoner and was released on June 21, 1986.  Edward headed an organization that provided medical supplies to Vietnam.  His family and friends believed that Minh was being used by a right-wing Vietnamese group to kill the professor.  Minh has denied that and claims the shooting was accidental.

Source: Los Angeles Times - Professor's Killer Freed From Prison


Edwardsville High School, Edwardsville, Illinois

Friday, December 7, 1984

One morning in this quiet little town outside the greater St. Louis metropolitan area, students boarded their school buses as normal and prepared for another day of learning.  When they arrived, police officers and SWAT team members were all over their school campus.  For an unknown reason, student Bill Lash had arrived earlier in the morning carrying an AR357.  He barricaded himself within the school and held law enforcement at bay for nearly eight hours before surrendering and restoring order to EHS.

Source: A Survivor of this school siege and the instigator himself


Arlington High School, Arlington, Texas

Friday, January 18, 1985

James Austin Stailey, 17, was excited about his new girlfriend and playing the lead role in the school's winter play The Real Inspector Hound.  After the opening show on Thursday night, cast members said they noticed a change in James at the post-production party.  On Friday, James went home at lunchtime and returned to his drama classroom carrying a brown suitcase.  He mumbled something to another student, pulled out a sawed-off .410-guage shotgun, put it in his mouth and fired one shot that killed him.  The drama classroom stage is upstairs from the main auditorium.  One of James's closest friend said the two talked about James's death earlier that week.  James was tortured by the cruel mechanics of the high school social cliques he found himself caught up in.  He wanted to join the Marines but had a heart defect that excluded him.  His birthday was just around the corner and he still had Christmas presents that he had not opened.  Other friends and family said James's actions were a complete shock to them.

Source: Two Survivors of Arlington High School


Goddard Junior High School, Goddard, Kansas

Monday, January 21, 1985

14-year-old James Alan Kearbey came to school today with an M-1A rifle.  He killed James McGee, his principal, and wounded two teachers and a student during his rampage.  He served seven years in jail before being released on his 21st birthday.  However, he hadn't changed his life all that much.  After several run ins with the police, he tried to end his life on Wednesday, November 1, 2001 after assaulting his girlfriend the night before.  The two were in his truck and he had a shotgun aimed at his chin while police negotiated with him to drop the shotgun.  At 8:00 in the morning, the now 31-year-old James, set the shotgun down and was arrested by police on aggravated assault charges.  One of the teachers wounded in the shooting was history teacher Donald Harris.  He was 39 when James shot him.  On Friday, February 20, 1998, the 52-year-old teacher and coach was jogging when he had a heart attack.  He died that day.


MacArthur Senior High School, Aldine, Texas

Tuesday, April 16, 1985

Harris County Deputy Rocky Davis was supplementing his income by working security at the Capewood Apartments, across the street from MacArthur Senior High School.  Today, the manager of the apartment complex informed Rocky of an illegally parked car at the apartments.  Rocky was not wearing his deputy uniform, but was dressed in camouflage clothing.  He found the car's owner, 18-year-old Eric Holmes, and began to question the boy.  Eric attends school at MacArthur.  The two began to argue about Eric's car being towed when his cousin showed up.  His cousin is 17-year-old Kevin Randle.  Rocky had told Eric several times that he was a county deputy, but he didn't have time to tell that to Kevin as he tried to break up the two by pushing Rocky away from Eric.  Rocky pulled out his gun and told the two boys they were under arrest.  Eric ran across the street to his school and Kevin and in a different direction.  Rocky, with his weapon still drawn, pursued Eric onto the school grounds, through 300 students waiting on the bus ramp and stopped at one point to call for back up.  When he did this, Rocky lost track of Eric, but not his determination.  Rocky spotted Kevin with one of the school's assistant principals at the back of the schoolyard.  Rocky made his way to them as the principal convinced Kevin to approach Rocky to find out what the problem was.  When Kevin approached Rocky, the deputy grabbed him and told him he was under arrest.  Rocky had still not identified himself to Kevin as being a Harris County deputy.  Kevin broke free from the hold and ran across the school's parking lot.  Rocky yelled out, "Freeze!" by Kevin didn't listen.  By now, Kevin was about 40 feet away from Rocky when he pulled the trigger on his .357 Magnum.  The bullet missed Kevin, but shattered a teacher's windshield as she was leaving the school.  She wasn't injured.  Rocky continued to pursue Kevin until Assistant Principal Charles Troncale stopped the boy and shielded him from Rocky.  Another deputy, in uniform, arrived at this time and settled the situation.  Rocky, 31, was fired from the sheriff's office and charged with aggravated assault.  Even though nobody was injured in this act of school violence, rarely do hear of a deputy opening fire on a school campus in a crowd of students. Aldine is a northern suburb of Houston.

Source: Houston Chronicle - Fired Deputy Charged For Shooting at Student


Highland Park High School, Highland Park, Texas

Wednesday, July 24, 1985

Students repeatedly park in front of, and peel out from, Betty Minyard Stein's home, which is across the street from their school.  When she complains to them directly, some of the students add insult to injury by calling her a witch and other obscenities.  The 65-year-old woman has repeatedly complained to the school about the unruly young drivers, but still the problem persists.  This morning one student peeled out from in front of her home and that was all she could take.  She crossed the street and entered the school.  She went into Jim Lee's Economics' classroom and complained, again, to him about the students harassing her.  His class was taking their finals test and so he led her back outside where he told the students to go to the cafeteria or to the front of the building.  As the students dispersed, he returned to his classroom.  18-year-old Ward L. Huey III was backing his car out of his parking spot about 9:30 a.m.  Something about his actions (whether they were too fast, too noisy, or something else entirely, was not reported) enraged Betty and she lost control.  She pulled out a small caliber handgun from her skirt pocket and shot at Ward, striking him in the left arm.  Betty was standing in the school's parking lot at the time she shot Ward.  However, she wasn't aiming for Ward in particular.  Jim heard the gunshot from his classroom.  He went outside and saw the students scrambling away from Betty as she was now returning to her home.  Jim rushed back inside and told a math teacher to call police.  After being shot, Ward was able to drive for a couple of blocks to the school's tennis court where he stopped and screamed for help.  Betty was arrested and charged with attempted murder, but posted a $50,000 bond and released from jail by the end of the day.  On August 22, 1985, a grand jury reduced the charges to aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.  Highland Park is a small affluent town surrounded by the city of Dallas.

Source: Dallas Morning News - Teenager Shot, Woman Arrested; Dallas Morning News - Grand Jurors Reduce School Shooting Charge


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