The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on April 29, 2001 · Page 4
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 4

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Sunday, April 29, 2001
Page 4
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SUNDAY. APRIL 29. 2001 THE SALINA JOURNAL • SCHOOL VIOLENCE Tragedy Averted Student threw loaded rifle aside before he harmed anyone By MARTHA IRVINE The Associated Press • MATTAWA, Wash. - Apple , orchards are blossoming just down the road. But there is one student in Michelle Hansen's honors English class who is not there to see it. . Cory Baadsgaard is, instead, in the county jail, writing letters of apology to classmates he has known since kindergarten — the same ones he forced into a classroom corner using a loaded big-game hunting rifle and swear words many had never heard him use before. "It's hard to write when you're shaking and crying," the 16-year-old said in a letter that his friend, Clint Price, read to the class soon after the April 10 standoff. "I'm so sorry about what I did. ... I never once thought about hurting any of you." No one was hurt, at least not physically, at Wahluke High School. But the anger and sec- ;6nd-guessing linger, and one "question continues to echo in the hallways. "Why?" • It's a question without a satisfactory answer here, or any other place where a student has walked into school with a weapon and a confused mind or bad intentions. According to the National School Safety Center, which began tracking school deaths in 1992, the numbers have dropped The Associated Press Michelle Hansen, a Wahluke High School teacher in Mattawa, Wash., was teaching honors English when Cory Baadsgaard held students hostage April 10. in the past decade. Even so, teen-agers have come of age hearing about rampages so heinous they are now simply referred to with one word: Jonesboro, Paducah, Columbine and Santee among them. The issue has hit especially close to Mattawa, a tiny no-stoplight town nestled in a valley that the Columbia River carved through the red rock and sagebrush of central Washington's high desert. Five years ago in nearby Moses Lake, Barry Loukaitis opened fire on his ninth-grade math class, killing two students and a teacher and seriously injuring another student. Still, students in Mattawa — many of them children of ranchers or farm hands — never really believed it would happen to them. And if it did, the gunman wouldn't be Baadsgaard, a lanky, baby-faced teen who was quick to give a hug. When searching for answers, students in Baadsgaard's class don't mention bullying or teasing. But they do wonder about other factors — among them, violence in movies and video games and guns that, a few believe, are too accessible. "Maybe he was copying what he saw on the news," 16-year-old classmate Marcela Negrete says, later adding, "Maybe he just wanted more attention from us." Megan Hyndman, 17, says, "Looking back, I guess I did see signs that he was having a hard time. He didn't really have a best friend." Several of his classmates knew Baadsgaard was struggling to pass Hansen's class (despite posting what Hansen says were the class's highest standardized reading scores). A smaller number also knew he'd been suicidal. And school officials have since discovered that in the days before he brought the gun to school, he was having trouble adjusting to a new anti-depressant medication. "It's too easy to jump to obvious conclusions about what it is that makes these kids go off," says Peter Scales, a developmental psychologist and senior fellow at Search Institute, a Minneapolis-based youth research center. At Wahluke High School, principal Bob Webb says he plans to assign an adult mentors. Webb says he has little doubt a shooting was averted because of the bonds that have taken hold in this town of 1,800 people (including outlying areas). That closeness, he says, showed itself as Hansen and some of her students made frequent eye contact with Baadsgaard, calmly talking to him as he sat against a classroom wall and tightly gripped the rifle's barrel. Webb and intervention specialist David Garcia then entered the room and kneeled next to Baadsgaard. "You don't want to do this," Webb said whispering into his ear and touching his shoulder Baadsgaard finally threw the gun aside and was led away by authorities. He has since pleaded not guilty to kidnapping and firearms charges and likely will be tried as an adult. Meanwhile, in Hansen's room, students have placed quotations on the room's walls. "To err is human; to forgive is divine." "Hindsight is 20-20." T TRIAL Jurors hear tapes of bomb suspect Church bombing trial depends on how they interpret the old tapes By The Associated Press BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — An FBI tape recording played for a jury Saturday in a church bombing trial showed a former Ku KIux Klansman saying police wouldn't catch him "when I bomb my next church." The tape, among several secretly recorded 35 years ago, was played in the trial of Thomas Blanton Jr. He is charged with murder in the Sept. 15, 1963 „. ^^„^^, bombing of the BLANTON Sixteenth Street Baptist Church that killed four young girls, one of the most notorious crimes of the civil rights era. Jurors began listening to the tapes Friday. On Saturday, jurors heard tapes made while Blanton, 62, was riding around Birmingham in a 1956 Chevy with Klansman and FBI informant Mitchell Burns, who was recruited by the FBI to spend time with Blanton following the bombing. Burns, now 73, testified Saturday that he rode around with Blanton for a couple of years while the FBI recorded their conversations. On one tape, Blanton is heard saying: "They ain't gonna catch me when I bomb my next church." Referring to the September bombing. Burns was heard asking: "How did you do that. Tommy?" Blanton replied: "It wasn't easy I tell you." ' Parts of the tape played Saturday were clear, and parts were very hard to understand. Burns said he only vaguely knew Blanton, but agreed to cooperate with the FBI after an agent showed him photos of the bombing victims — Denise McNair, 11, and Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley and Carole Robertson, all 14. The FBI had also hid a listening device in Blanton's kitchen after the bombing. Circuit Judge James Garrett ruled Friday that jurors would get to hear IS of the 20 tapes of Blanton and Burns that prosecutors had sought to introduce. Defense attorney John Robbins claims the tapes are unintelligible and don't reflect the context of the conversations, including the ones heard Friday "You've all heard it and each one of you has come up with something different," Robbins said after the tapes were replayed for the news media. On the tape played Friday, Blanton can be heard twice uttering the phrase "plan a bomb" or "plan the bomb." At one point, he appears to justify a meeting with Klansmen at a river bridge one night shortly before the bombing: "You've got to have a meeting to plan a bomb." BRIEFLY Day after crash brings mourning :: NEWTON, Mass. — Flow- eij-s were piled high outside Oak Hill Middle School Saturday as residents gathered tj) rhourn four students killed in a bus crash during a band trip to a festival in Canada. r "It just doesn't seem real to me yet," said seventh grader Laura Kalin as she walked into the school with her mother. Forty-two members of the school band — ages 10 to 13 — were headed to Halifax, Nova Scotia, early Friday when their bus skidded off a highway exit in New Brunswick and overturned several times. Most of the children and five chaperones were sleeping at the time. Two drivers also were on the bus. Hundreds of parents, students and teachers met with grief counselors and members of the clergy "I've spent 39 years working with students, and all those years I've prayed something like this would never happen. Now it has," said Janet Goldrick, Newton's deputy superintendent of schools. The crash remained under investigation, although Royal Canadian Mounted Police said the bus appeared to have taken a wrong exit off the Trans-Canada Highway, six hours from their destination, then failed to negotiate a sharp curve. Pope asks Bush to spare l\/lcVeigh WASHINGTON — Pope John Paul II has asked President Bush to spare the life of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, who is scheduled to be executed May 16. White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan said a letter from John Paul requesting clemency was received this week. She would not reveal the details of the letter. Legal scholars said it appeared Bush had no way to intervene in the execution even if he were inclined to. , McVeigh allowed a Feb. 16 deadline to pass without filing a request for clemency. After that the execution date was set. Under federal rules, McVeigh had one month after his execution date was set to ask the president for consideration. Buchan said Bush believes McVeigh has been treated fairly John Paul regularly asks for clemency for death row inmates whose time is running out. In speeches, he has made several pronouncements against the death penalty NASA overcomes robot-arm problems CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — After four days of furious work, NASA overcame crippling computer problems at the international space station Saturday and completed critical robot-arm operations with the astronauts' help. It was slow going, but in the end, the space station's new robot arm successfully handed its 3,000-pound packing crate to space shuttle Endeavour's robot arm. Even before the computer problems, this unprecedented mechanical handshake had been considered the most complicated robotic feat ever attempted in space. AU10 astronauts and cosmonauts on the docked spacecraft were needed for Saturday's extra tricky and nerve-racking operation. "A lot of great relationships start off with a good, firm handshake, and we certainly saw one of those here today," Mission Control said. "It's a whole new dimension for space station assembly." Their triumph helped clear the way for a departure of Endeavour Sunday and an arrival of a Russian Soyuz spacecraft Monday. The Soyuz is carrying Dennis Tito, the world's first space tourist. From Wire Service Reports 1 • Commercial Horticulture • Computer Aided Drafting • Dental Assistant • Diesel Technology • Machine Shop • Refrigeration & Air Conditioning • Welding More Career IVaining Opportunities Available! Salina Area Technical School 2562 Scanlan Avenue • Salina, KS 67401 785-825-2261 or 1-800-466-7980 Watchbands & Watch Repair oTsr Est. 1884 we L C RS Fine Credit Jewelers It's the little things that matter. 123 N. Santa Fe / 825-0531 Call Merry Maids! Sills aid Screens : Bring this i i in to i : SAVE $20 : a Good through June 30 • ••••••••••••a On Window Cleaning Service Free Estimates merry sanna mSUdL 785-825-8636 ^ 785-263-2778 YEN CHING Chinese Restsaurant DELIVERY 823-1685 Open 7 days a week Dine In & Carryout 540 S. Broadway 823-2089 Free roaming. Free long distance. Doug Mike From sea to shining sea. Steve \CeUular One National Advantage Mon .^7ri. Sat. 9 -1 CELUUlAROIiiE' with plans starting at just $29.99. Some restrictions may appi/. Dealer ith Cellular (')iic N atioiial Advan age you can iiow call anyone anyiinie froi 11 anywhere for jusl e low mondily ran ;. No more roa ning lees. No more long ilislance charges Plain and simple. • ® 128 N. Santa Fe / Salina, KS 67401 78$-a23^225 A Father's Urge rorgtve, "You are Invited to hear Bud Welch tell his story. Mr.Welch is Catholic and he will share his journey of faith after his daughter was killed in the Oklahoma City bombing. His own searching has led him to befriend MrTimothy McVeigh's father. He has shared his pain and hope all across the country and has agreed to come to Salina. Bud Welch holds a photo of his daughter, Julie, taken shortly before her death in the April 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City. Welch wrote in Time Magazine last June,"There's been enough bloodshed...We don't need to have any more.To me the death penalty is vengeance, and vengeance doesn't really help anyone in the healing process. Of course, our first reaction is to strike back. But if we permit ourselves to think through our feelings, we might get to a different place...! think my daughter's position on this would be the same as mine." Thursday, May 10,7:00 p.m. St. Mary's Grade School Ali-Purpose Room 230 E. Cloud St., Salina

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