We also received official court documents, including procedural transcripts, psychiatric reports, and other materials entered into evidence. It was clear that, three years after the shooting, people’s memories of what occurred were clouded, making it difficult to rely on the interviews to piece together a clear narrative. We benefited enormously from having access to the complete police investigative file, whose several thousand pages included summaries of witness interviews, signed depositions, Andrew’s writings, evidence inventories, and other useful material. This file was provided to us by a source outside the Pennsylvania State Police. We also reviewed media reports, but after discovering several inaccuracies in those accounts, we relied on other sources for basic facts about the case. To provide background on Edinboro and the General McLane School District, we consulted a mix of census data, town records, school and police reports, and town-related web sites.

THE INCIDENT

The basic facts of the case are beyond dispute (Box 3-1). On Friday evening, at approximately 9:40 p.m., April 24, 1998, Andrew Jerome Wurst, age 14, shot and killed science teacher John J. Gillette, age 48, at Nick’s Place, a banquet hall located just south of Parker Middle School on Route 99. The event, which Gillette had helped plan, had drawn about 240 students. The theme fit the occasion: “Had the Time of My Life.”

BOX 3-1Incident Timeline of Events: April 24, 1998

2:50 p.m.

The school day ends, and Andrew takes the bus home.

5:00 p.m.

Dressing for the eighth grade dinner dance, Andrew takes his father’s handgun and puts it into a holster belt under his shirt.

5:10 p.m.

Andrew leaves a suicide note on his pillow.

5:30 p.m.

Andrew’s parents drop him off at Nick’s Place.

6:00 p.m.

The dinner dance begins.

9:25 p.m.

Andrew goes to the bathroom to take the handgun out of the holster belt and put it into his pocket.

9:40 p.m.

Andrew shoots and kills teacher John J. Gillette. He then shoots and wounds teacher Edrye May Boraten and students Jacob Tury and Robert Zemcik.

9:50 p.m.

Andrew is apprehended at gunpoint by Nick’s Place owner James A. Strand.

10:00 p.m.

Andrew’s mother arrives at Nick’s Place to pick up her son, instead finding him under arrest.

   

NOTE: All times, except the start of the dinner dance, are approximate.



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