Columbine, one of the most tragic school shootings in the history of the United States, left in its wake lessons clearly defining warning signs…if people are listening. On Monday, December 1, 1997 fourteen-year-old Michael Carneal opened fire on a group of praying students, killing three and injuring five more at Heath High School in West Paducah, Kentucky. Michael wrapped a shotgun and a rifle in a blanket and took them to school. When he arrived he fired eight rounds at a youth prayer group: three girls died and five others were wounded. After dropping the gun on the ground, Michael said: “Kill me, please. I can’t believe I did that.” Among the deceased were 14-year-old Nicole Hadley, 17-year-old Jessica James and 15-year-old Kayce Steger. Michael was bullied by other students, diagnosed with schizophrenia and hospitalized several times due to psychosis. Watch murderabilia – serial killers ink on news
Weeks before the incident, Michael stole a .38 handgun from his parents’ room and tried to sell it at school. Michael told students that “something big is going to happen on Monday” but no one took him seriously. In October 1998, Judge Jeff Hines accepted a plea of guilty from Michael. Under a plea arrangement, Michael received a life sentence with the possibility of parole in 25 years (2023). Michael was transported to the Kentucky State Reformatory in La Grange. In 2007, Michael filed an appeal claiming that he was too mentally ill to plead guilty to the shooting at Heath High School and asked the Kentucky Supreme Court for a re-trial; his request was rejected. Michael had in his locker at the time a copy of Stephen King’s novel Rage and after the shooting King requested his publisher to allow it to go out of print. Watch Postal 2
Warning Signs Ignored
Jeremy T. Ellis, a 10th grader: He was this goofy kid that did silly stuff. He thought it would be cool to walk down the halls shooting people. He told me he would get keys to people’s houses, unlock the door, and steal medication and money. You look back and you see all these things that were warning signs but you didn’t realize them at the time.
Matthew T. Barnett, a 10th grader: Michael said we should go to the office and shoot them. I said ‘Yeah, yeah,’ but didn’t think anything about it. It’s just idle conversation. I mean, I’m sure people say random things like that, not meaning anytthing. And people don’t take them seriously. Read Stephen King Rage book review