A day after the shooting at SuccessTech Academy, a profile of the 14-year-old shooter, Asa Coon, is beginning to emerge. David Kachadourian, one of the teachers Coon shot, told the story of what happened last night on ABC’s Nightline (you can read the transcript here). Kachadourian had only known Coon for a few weeks–Coon entered his class at the beginning of the school year–but he said Coon “seemed like a real angry kid.” Classmates are describing him as a “Goth” who typically wore black clothes and a long trench coat, à la Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold of Columbine, and that he strapped an empty gun belt to his leg. (Yesterday he was wearing a black Marilyn Manson T-shirt and black jeans, and his fingernails were painted black.) CNN reports that a friend said Coon “had warned him a month ago that he was going to snap someday.”
According to the New York Times,
Court documents showed that he spent time in juvenile detention centers, stemming, in part, from at least one incident of domestic violence.
Court records also show that he threatened to commit suicide last year while in the care of a mental health facility, and that he had a problematic relationship with his mother. They also show that he refused to take medication and was suspended from school last year for trying to physically harm another student.
In the wake of this scare it will be supremely important to find out as much as possible about the warning signals Coon was sending out and the mental health treatment he was, or was not, receiving. The point is not necessarily to assign blame to a particular friend or teacher or administrator or case worker who should have read the signs and done something about it–although if there’s negligence here, certainly that’s relevant. More important, we need to learn as much as we can about the types of behaviors a person like Coon exhibits when he is on the brink of a catastrophically violent outburst so that we’ll be better equipped to prevent such tragedies from happening in the future.