the guns in a blanket and put them under his bed. He would later tell police that Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, was the day he decided to bring the guns to school.5

On Friday evening, Carneal, his father, and a family friend went to a basketball tournament at Murray State University. On Saturday afternoon, Carneal put the 30-30 rifle and two of the four .22 rifles in his duffle bag and rode his bicycle to the house of a friend. He showed the guns to this young man and his older brother, a senior at Heath High School, who cautioned the two boys not to get into trouble. In the evening, John Carneal came to the house to pick up his son and his friend, who spent the night at the Carneal home. Michael Carneal left the three guns at his friend’s house because he was afraid that his father would discover them if he put them in the car. The two played video games and watched television. Sunday afternoon Carneal did his homework and that evening stole two old shotguns from his father’s closet and hid them under his bed.

Carneal’s family described the morning before the shooting as a typical Monday morning. Carneal told his parents and sister that the large bundle that he brought to school contained props for a skit he was going to do in English class that day. In reality, it contained the two shotguns and two .22 rifles wrapped in a blanket. He had the pistol, the earplugs, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition in his backpack. He drove to school with Kelly, entering through the back door. As he walked through the band room, the band teacher asked him what was in the bundle, and again he said it contained props for an English project. He walked to the school lobby where the Goths hung out before school.

Each morning before school, a group of about 25 to 30 students gathers in the Heath lobby to say a short prayer. When the leader says, “Time to pray,” the students join hands, have a one to two minute prayer, and then go to class. The prayer group draws a wide cross-section of students. Some are athletes, many are band members, and many are freshmen. The small group of students that Carneal hung out with stayed to the side of the lobby and did not participate in the prayer group.

When Carneal arrived in the lobby, he walked through the Goth group, and put his bundle down by the wall. One of the students asked what was in the bundled up blanket and Carneal again said it was his English project. Students later reported to police that one student remarked that the sound of the bundle hitting the floor suggested that it contained guns rather than an English project. After this remark, though, someone changed the subject, and no one talked to Carneal. Carneal later said that he was thinking, “You’ve got to do this for yourself.” He put his backpack on the floor, put in his earplugs, and put a clip in the pistol and pulled it out of his backpack. Just as the group was finishing its morning



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