been easy for teachers and other individuals who knew the relationships among the children to accept. To them, the patterns and the reasons these particular individuals became targets is all too clear.

It is also not clear whether Andrew or Mitchell was the instigator in the shooting, and community members—including those who knew the boys well—are fairly evenly divided in their assessments. Those who are close to the investigation, and many in the community, generally believe that Andrew was the instigator because his psychological evaluation seemed to indicate he was the more troubled of the two and he fired more shots and hit more victims. Others who also knew the boys well are equally convinced that Mitchell was the instigator. He was more of a leader; he was older, smarter, and was controlling. While he could be very charming, he had an explosive temper and, by some accounts, an abusive personality. Mitchell was described as manipulative and hence was believed to have coaxed Andrew into helping him because Andrew had the means—access to the guns. Mitchell also had the harder life; he came from a broken home and had suffered abuse in the past. Some who knew the boys felt that their association with each other basically revolved around the planning of the shooting. They felt that each needed the other to carry it out. However, the investigation did not uncover any concrete evidence that sheds light on the interpersonal dynamics of the two.

Some residents also had trouble reconciling the fact that an insider like Andrew, whose family had been in the community for generations, could conceive of such a heinous act, so they find it more plausible to blame it on Mitchell, the relative newcomer. In retrospect, we know that Mitchell seemed to have precipitating events immediately preceding the shooting which could explain his anger at that time; we know little about Andrew, however.


Virtually no one in the community seemed to be able to explain why this tragedy happened. When the boys were apprehended by police a few minutes after the shooting, one of the officer’s asked “Why?” as much to himself, he claimed, as to the other officer. Mitchell reportedly replied, “Anger, I guess.” He then nodded his head toward Andrew and said “He asked me if I would help him do it and I said ‘yes.’” The other officer remembers Mitchell stating that “Andrew was mad at a teacher…. He was tired of their crap.” Since that day, when the boys have been asked the same question, they appeared not to be able to give an answer. Some believe that there will never be an answer to this question; others think that the cause is, at the very least, multifaceted.

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