. "3. Bad Things Happen in Good Communities: The Rampage Shooting in Edinboro, Pennsylvania, and Its Aftermath." Deadly Lessons: Understanding Lethal School Violence. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2003.
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Deadly Lessons: Understanding Lethal School Violence
By his own report, Andrew had difficulty falling asleep, often lying awake in bed for an hour or two, and he sometimes had nightmares of monsters chasing him. In his last interview with Sadoff, Andrew said that he was afraid of spiders and heights. He also spoke of monsters in his closet. Andrew’s mother, Catherine Wurst, confirmed with Sadoff that her son had these fears about his closet, as well as the space under his bed. Each night she had to make sure there was nobody under the bed or in the closet and to leave a light on in his room. Often, she would lie on the covers with him for awhile, talking affectionately with him, trying to help him settle down to sleep.
Sadoff wrote that, according to Andrew, he was a frequent bed wetter until about age 9, which his mother confirmed. Andrew said that his two older brothers teased him about this a lot. Sadoff reported that Andrew had no history of fire setting or cruelty to animals, which are often warning signs of future violence. His mother told the psychiatrist that when at play Andrew would sometimes wear camouflage clothing and carry a toy gun and then crawl on the ground as if he were stalking someone.
Andrew told Sadoff that he began having suicidal ideas when he was 10, but could not say why. One time he had put a plastic bag over his head to see what it would be like. Other times he thought about hanging himself or shooting himself with one of his father’s guns, the semiautomatic handgun he eventually used at Nick’s Place or a long rifle, but he had never taken steps to act out those thoughts. He denied ever getting angry and, in fact, could not even describe the last time he was.
Andrew recounted to Sadoff that, on the evening of the shooting, he took his father’s handgun and put it in a holster belt under his shirt. He loaded the gun with nine bullets in the magazine clip and one in the chamber. Before leaving for the dance, Andrew left a suicide note on his pillow, Andrew’s mother told Sadoff. Andrew told the psychiatrist that a friend at the dance had seen the gun under his shirt. The friend, in his own statement to police, said that Andrew had asked him to feel something under his shirt, which he had surmised to be a gun.
Later, according to Andrew, he went to the bathroom to take the gun out of the holster belt and put it into his pocket, intending to kill himself but not hurt anyone else. About 15 minutes later, he was out on the patio with several friends, when Mr. Gillette came out to ask them to come inside from the cold. Andrew pulled out the gun and shot him in the head. The teacher fell to the ground, and Andrew shot him a second time. Why did he do it? Andrew doesn’t know, he told Sadoff, saying he had no reason to kill the teacher.
Andrew remembered going inside then and shooting, but not at anyone in particular. One boy, Justin Fletcher, was staring at him, Andrew recalled for Sadoff, and that is why he shot at him. The psychiatrist asked