School Shooters: Two Scenarios

Another day, and the profile of 14-year-old shooter Asa Coon continues to deepen. As this piece in today’s New York Times reports:

Mr. Coon’s troubles started early. In 1997, he was 3 and living with his family in Cortland, N.Y., in a house strewn with garbage, according to a report by a caseworker for the Cortland County Social Services Department.

His older brothers, Stephen and Daniel, threatened neighbors with weapons, including rocks, knives and a fake bomb, the caseworker reported.

Mr. Coon’s mother, Lori Looney, was found guilty of neglect by the county juvenile court. His father, Thomas Coon, was not involved with the family, the caseworker reported.

Throughout Asa Coon’s childhood, his brother Stephen was in almost perpetual legal trouble. He was found guilty of many criminal violations, court records show, including burglary, felonious assault and domestic violence.

Stephen Coon was arrested again on Thursday on a probation violation, the police said.

At 11, with the family living here, Asa Coon ran afoul of the law. In January 2005, he yelled obscenities at his mother and punched her in the left eye, according to a police report.

Asa Coon admitted the crime in juvenile court and was ordered to attend six hours a week of counseling, perform community service and attend an anger management class, court documents show.

Mr. Coon received one-on-one counseling for five months until his probation expired last October. But he never received the anger management training because he was too young to attend the class, said James Tribble, chief probation officer for the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court.

Mr. Coon “made a suicidal statement” to caseworkers and was given medications to treat depression and hyperactivity, according to e-mail messages among social workers who treated him. But he regularly refused to take the medicines, court documents show.

Now compare Coon’s story with one on the same page in the Times, about another 14-year-old boy who was planning a killing spree at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School in Pennsylvania. The shooting was averted on Wednesday after a friend whom the potential shooter had hoped to recruit called the police. A table filled with weapons seized from the boy’s home (at least some of which were purchased for him by his parents) was displayed at the district attorney’s press conference, making the scene look less like a media gaggle than an auction at a gun show. Police also found “notebooks detailing violent acts, an Army handbook on counterinsurgency operations and a DVD entitled ‘Game Over in Littleton,’ a documentary on the 1999 rampage in which two students at Columbine High School in Colorado shot to death 12 schoolmates and a teacher before committing suicide.” The boy is being charged as a juvenile for “various offenses including criminal attempt and possession of a criminal instrument,” the Times reports.

Scenario A, Scenario B: what happens when no one makes the call, and what happens when someone does.


One response to “School Shooters: Two Scenarios

  1. This is a product of enviroment. To blame Asa is the easy way out. To blame Marilyn Manson is even easier.

    We look for someone or something to blame and we fall short. When there exists a dysfunctional society why should we be suprised to find so many dysfunctional families.

    To genrealize about this kind of thing takes away from the fact that until we take responsibility for each other we will not improve things one bit. Doesn’t take much, for those we have in our circle and are in need, lend a hand.

    Take all those involved, shooter and shot alike, they are all victims of one sort or another.

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