Second Oregon student dies Teen-ager arraigned in killings of 2 pupils, his mother and father

'Just kill me now'

May 23, 1998|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- A second teen-ager died yesterday as grieving residents here struggled to understand why no one who saw the warning signs acted to stop a 15-year-old who stands accused of killing his parents and then raking his high school cafeteria with gunfire Thursday morning.

Kipland Phillip Kinkel, handcuffed and flanked by sheriff's deputies, was arraigned as an adult on four counts of aggravated murder in connection with the deaths of two classmates, his mother and his father. He showed no emotion.

Police, fearful of booby traps, made their way yesterday into the secluded home where Kinkel, a freshman at Thurston High School, lived, and they found the bodies of his parents, Faith Kinkel, 57, and William P. Kinkel, 60. Both had been shot.

Although investigators had spotted the two bodies in the house on McKenzie River on Thursday, officers had avoided going near them for fear of triggering two intricately made bombs with timing devices that they found hidden in a crawl space above Kipland Kinkel's room. Yesterday, as they disarmed those bombs, investigators said they also found three other bombs, as well as two hand grenades, 175 mm howitzer shell casings, bomb-making chemicals and literature on how to make explosive devices.

Kinkel was being held in the Skipworth Youth Detention Facility in neighboring Eugene on a suicide watch. The facility's director, Steve Carmichael, described Kinkel as "calm. He grew agitated and he paced and then he calmed down again. When he came in, he said, 'Just kill me now.' "

If convicted, he could face life in prison. He is spared Oregon's death penalty because he is a juvenile.

Kinkel has emerged as a confounding suspect: The son of popular teachers, he is said to have bragged about torturing animals, reportedly liked making bombs and talked of killing people. Yet he was sweet to a former girlfriend and was described as a typical teen-ager.

"He was a normal All-American kid," said Rachel Dawson, 15, who dated Kinkel in middle school. "But he had a troubled side. He was always mad at something. He had a mad-at-the-world attitude."

Laughed off comments

The varied descriptions of the suspect have stirred debate in this working-class city at the edge of the Cascade Mountains. Residents wonder if someone -- parent, teacher or classmate -- should have recognized him as a troubled teen-ager and offered him help.

Classmates said Kinkel, with sandy-brown hair and freckles, often boasted of horrific acts. But most seemed to laugh his comments off as big talk from a youngster who was picked on because of his unusual name.

But Kinkel is charged with firing 50 bullets from a high-powered semiautomatic rifle and one from one of his two handguns as he calmly shot two dozen of his classmates in the school cafeteria before 8 a.m. Thursday. The day before, he had been arrested and suspended for hiding a stolen handgun in his locker.

Mikael Nickolauson, 17, an aspiring National Guardsman, was killed instantly. Ben Walker, 16, died yesterday, when doctors shut down his life support system, deciding the youngster would never recover from the bullet wound to his head.

Police defend release

Kinkel had been released after his arrest on the handgun charge Wednesday, which prompted criticism from some residents who wondered why the youth had not been detained.

At a news conference packed with reporters from as far away as Germany yesterday, Police Chief Bill DeForrest defended his officers, saying Kinkel told them, " 'I just like guns.' He made no specific threat." DeForrest said Kinkel told officers, "I don't intend to use it on anybody." Oregon law, DeForrest said, mandated Kinkel's release.

Police did not return the handgun that Kinkel carried Wednesday. DeForrest said Kinkel also had a .22-caliber semiautomatic rifle and two handguns owned by his father that were used in the school attack.

City officials praised three students who tackled the shooter as he paused to reload. One of them, Jacob Ryker, 17, a wrestler, had been shot in the chest before he brought down the gunman. Yesterday, Jacob was in serious condition but expected to live.

Officials also praised residents who overwhelmed the local blood bank with donations for the 22 wounded. And they scheduled a '' community forum for Tuesday to let neighbors air their concerns and grieve.

Ben Walker was pronounced dead yesterday at McKenzie-Willamette Hospital after a long consultation with family members, who requested his organs be donated. A hospital administrator said Ben never had a chance.

Thursday night, Chianne Shryker, who was walking in front of Ben, her boyfriend, when he was shot, wrote a letter to him and posted it at a makeshift shrine in front of Thurston High School.

"The time we had together is never going to be over," she wrote. "Because as far as I'm concerned, you are still with me. Oh Ben, I hate to say goodbye."

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