From: Rod Swift
Subject: More on KY school shooting
Date: Tue, 6 Oct 1998 12:30:43 +0800 (WST)

This may be yet another example of "how homophobia hurts straights". If not, it might be a good posting to shut Jimbo Staal up (who claimed Michael Carneal was an "atheist"). Note the quote by the kid's pastor: "this is not an act of an atheist". And, oh, the irony if it was a good Christian kid exacting justice against some harrassing homophobes.


Paducah Sun, October 4, 1998
Box 2300,Paducah,KY,42002
(Fax 502-442-7859 ) ( )
The state vs. Carneal
Ten months after the question was asked, a jury Monday will seek the answer: Why


To his friends and fellow students, Michael Carneal was a typical 14-year-old freshman at Heath High School.

He never got into serious trouble in school and had never been arrested or charged with a crime. He played in the high school band, enjoyed spending time on his computer and his grades were above average.

He came from a strong upper middle class family and participated in activities with his parents, John and Ann Carneal. John Carneal is a well-respected and well-liked attorney whose main practice is workers' compensation law. Ann Carneal is a housewife.

Michael Carneal had been going to St. Paul Lutheran Church with his parents since he was a baby. In May 1997 he joined the church. His pastor, the Rev. Paul Donner, said he has no doubts that Carneal was serious about his salvation and is a Christian.

Carneal, small in stature, often was teased by his peers. His friends said that he usually laughed and teased them back. There was no indication of the apparent emotions that were building inside him.

Carneal shocked his family, friends and the entire community shortly after 7:30 a.m. on Dec. 1 when he walked into the Heath High School lobby carrying four rifles wrapped in a blanket and a handgun in his backpack.

As he watched more than two dozens students in a pre-school voluntary prayer group, he calmly took earplugs from his pocket and placed them in his ears. He then pulled the .22 Ruger semi-automatic pistol from his backpack and fired 11 shots into a group of students. In a matter of seconds, he killed three students, paralyzed another and injured four more.

On Monday, Carneal, now 15, will be in McCracken Circuit Court for the start of a trial on three counts of murder, five counts of attempted murder and one count of burglary. Since the shooting, he has been lodged in three different juvenile detention centers in Kentucky.

McCracken Commonwealth Attorney Tim Kaltenbach wants the maximum penalty: life in prison without a chance of parole for 25 years.

Defense attorney Tom Osborne wants Judge Jeff Hines to accept a plea of guilty but mentally ill. Acceptance of that sentence would avoid a trial to determine guilt, but would still require a trial to determine the punishment. Accepting the guilty but mentally ill plea would make it easier for Osborne to argue that Carneal should be given a lighter sentence.

In addition to life without parole for 25 years, the other options would be straight life with parole eligibility after 12 years, and sentences of 20 years or more after which Carneal would be eligible for parole after serving 20 percent of the sentence.

The big question in the punishment trial will be what influenced Carneal to take a gun to school and open fire on his classmates.

Kaltenbach will attempt to prove it was a premeditated act to gain attention and favor from his peers. Osborne and Chuck Granner, his co-counsel, will attempt to show that Carneal wasn't in control of his actions that day because he suffered from a mental disorder caused by endless teasing and the desire to be accepted by other students.

In the days after the shooting, Carneal's friends and neighbors were in shock over the shooting spree. Even in hindsight, those interviewed said they saw nothing in his actions or personality to indicate that he was capable of such a crime.

Classmates interviewed by the Sun on the day of the shooting described Carneal as friendly and involved in school activities. "I would have never thought he'd have done anything like this," one 16-year-old girl said. "He wasn't a loner. He had plenty of friends. Some of the people who were shot were his friends."

The classmates said that they saw no signs that Carneal was a member of a cult or satanic group.

His closest friends have told investigators that, for more than a year, Carneal talked about taking over the school or Kentucky Oaks Mall using guns. The motivation, they said, was to gain attention. They said he didn't talk of killing anyone, but just of using the guns to take control. After a few hours, they said he would give up. They never took him seriously.

A few days before the shooting, Carneal warned some of his friends not to be in school on the morning of Dec. 1 because something big was going to happen. Again, students said they didn't take him seriously because he had made similar statements before.

He also carried a gun to school with him five days before the shooting and showed it to other students. The students said in interviews with psychologists that they weren't impressed or alarmed, and didn't mention it to any teachers or adults.

There was early speculation that Carneal was an atheist and that he fired into the prayer group seeking revenge. Donner, his pastor, dispelled that rumor in a news conference several days after the shooting.

"We studied God's word together," Donner said. "Michael is a Christian. What he did was a devastating act. It was not the act of an atheist. It was an act of a sinful Christian."

Donner said the profession of faith came after two years of confirmation classes. "He was very active during the classes and asked very intelligent, very probing and very interesting questions," said Donner, adding that Carneal didn't say or do anything to indicate that he was an atheist or that he did not believe what he was being taught.

[NOTE from Back in June lawyers for the victims families held a press conference. They revealed 2 defense psychological evealuations of the 15 year old boy who shoot and killed three girl students in a school lobby prayer group and injured many others at Paducah's Heath High Schools (Dec.97). The evaulations state that Michael Carneal had been gay bashed and taunted for a long period of time, since the school student newspaper stated that he was gay in a column titled "Rumor Has It". All efforts are being made to surpress this evaluation information in this Christian Fundie community.]


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