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5 Hospitalized After 14-Year-Old Goes on Shooting Rampage at Cleveland High School

When Asa H. Coon got suspended for fighting on Monday, this was the 14-year-old's response to his schoolmates: "I got something for you all."

He was still suspended Wednesday, but somehow he made it into the SuccessTech Academy alternative school, armed with two revolvers. Police also found a duffel bag stocked with ammunition and three knives in a bathroom.

Coon, who students say also had threatened them last week, shot two teachers and two students before committing suicide, police said.

It began, student Rasheem Smith said, after Coon left the bathroom and ran into 15-year-old student Michael Peek.

Coon "came out of the bathroom and bumped Mike and (Mike) punched him in his face. Mike started walking. He shot Mike in the side," said Smith, 15.

Wearing a Marilyn Manson concert shirt, black jeans and black-painted finger nails, Coon walked down the hallway, cussing and firing shots. Witnesses said he moved through the converted five-story downtown office building, working his way up through the first two floors of administrative offices to the third floor of classrooms.

Antonio Deberry, 17, watched from under a lab table, where he crouched for 15 minutes until police led him and his classmates out. "He didn't see us, we saw him," he said.

Others hid in closets and bathrooms, alerted by the principal's "Code Blue" over the public address system, or fled screaming down the stairs.

"They were screaming, and they were saying, 'Oh my God, oh my God,"' said Darnell Rodgers, who was walking up the stairs. "I knew something was wrong, but thought that it was probably just a fight, so I just kept going," the 18-year-old said.

"It took me a couple of minutes to realize that I was actually shot."

Rodgers was released from a hospital after treatment for a graze wound to his right elbow.

Another student, Doneisha LeVert, said she hid in a closet with two other students after she heard the alert over the loudspeaker. She said she heard about 10 shots.

Police released audio from three 911 calls — two from students who had fled the building after the first two shots and one from a distraught mother, calling on behalf of her son, who was huddled in the back of a fourth floor classroom.

"They just shot somebody in his room!" the crying mother told the dispatcher.

LeVert said Coon had made threats in front of students and teachers last week, but she believes no one took action.

"He's crazy. He threatened to blow up our school. He threatened to stab everybody," she said. "We didn't think nothing of it."

Math teacher David Kachadourian, who was treated at a hospital for a minor wound to the back of one shoulder, said Coon had been a student in his beginning algebra class. But the 57-year-old teacher said he had not disciplined Coon and knew of no reason why Coon might target him.

"I never felt personally threatened or personally at risk," Kachadourian said after leaving the hospital. "I had concerns about him, yes. He seemed like an angry young man. I did not fear for my own safety."

Coon had been suspended since Monday for fighting near the school that day, said Charles Blackwell, president of SuccessTech's student-parent organization. He did not know how Coon got into the building Wednesday.

Blackwell said that there was a security guard on the first floor, but that the position of another guard on the third floor had been eliminated.

Student Frances Henderson, 14, said she often got into arguments with Coon, who told her Monday, "I got something for you all." She said she usually wore a trench coat, black boots and a dog collar.

Students stood outside the building Wednesday, many in tears, hugging one another and on cell phones. Others shouted at reporters with TV cameras to leave them alone. Family members also stood outside, waiting for their children to be released.

Michael Grassie, a 42-year-old history teacher, was in fair condition at Metro Health Medical Center after about two hours of surgery. The hospital would not disclose the nature of the surgery.

The other two injured teens were taken to a children's hospital, which would not release their names, ages or conditions.

Deberry's mother, Lakisha Deberry, said she was upset that metal detectors at the school were not always in use.

"You never know what's going on in someone's mind," said Deberry, adding that she was required to go through a metal detector and present an identification card whenever she wanted to drop off something at school for her children.

The shooting occurred across the street from the FBI office in downtown Cleveland, and students were being sent to the FBI site.

Classes at all schools in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District will be canceled Thursday, said Eugene Sanders, chief executive officer of the district. Counseling will be available Thursday for students at recreation centers throughout the city, Sanders said.

SuccessTech Academy is an alternative high school in the public school district that stresses technology and entrepreneurship for about 240 students, most of them black, with a small number of white and Hispanic students. It opened five years ago and ranks in the middle of the state's ratings for student performance. Its graduation rate is 94 percent, well above the district's rate of 55 percent.

"It's a shining beacon for the Cleveland Metropolitan School system," said John Zitzner, founder and president of E City Cleveland, a nonprofit group aimed at teaching business skills to inner-city teens. "It's orderly, it's disciplined, it's calm, it's focused."