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Now that more facts have been released, and the story is much more clear, many issues arise as they commonly do in the aftermath of school shootings.
The most recurring theme among school shooters is a history of violence and/or serious problems.
Asa H. Coon was no exception:
According to court records, back in 1998 Asa was involved in a neglect case. The details are unclear but social workers say Asa who was around five at the time had burns on different parts of his body.
In 2006, Asa was brought into juvenile court facing domestic violence charges. He ended up in a juvenile detention home and later was given probation and home monitoring. (WKYC.com)---
[Asa] had a history of mental health problems, including aggressive behavior. He also threatened to commit suicide last year while in the care of a mental health facility...
He was suspended from school last year for attempting to cause physical harm to another student. (Cleveland Metro News)---
The boy was described by other students as a loner and devil worshipper who had made jokes about shooting other students in front of teachers.To top it off, Coon was currently on suspension for fighting.
...police had visited his home for other reasons on a number of occasions, McGrath said. (AFP Chicago)---
A fellow student at SuccessTech Academy alternative school said the shooter, who was suspended for fighting two days earlier, had made threats in front of students and teachers last week.
"He's crazy. He threatened to blow up our school. He threatened to stab everybody," Doneisha LeVert said. "We didn't think nothing of it." (AP)
This same issue was addressed in the Virginia Tech Report, which sought to increase communication between teachers and officials regarding a student's tendency for violence.
Better communication might help, but the obvious signs that Coon gave to his teachers fly in the face of the VA Tech Report, as Coon, according to a fellow student, wore a visible gun belt around his leg in class. A gun belt per se is meaningless, but even if the school did not know of his criminal record, the combination of the belt, his schoolyard violence, and the other warning signs should have been plenty to warrant more attention to him, if not an expulsion. But communication will never be enough, simply because
"You never know what's going on in someone's mind," said Deberry, who said she was required to go through a metal detector and present an identification card whenever she wanted to drop off something at school for her children.The second issue and also a recurring theme is the fallacy of the "gun free zone."
From this AP report:
Item A: SuccessTech was a gun free school, yet Asa H. Coon successfully entered and brought in two .38 caliber handguns, ammunition, and three knives.
Item B: SuccessTech was equipped with metal detectors,1 yet Asa Coon successfully entered and brought in two .38 caliber handguns, ammunition, and three knives.
Item C: SuccessTech had at least one security guard on duty, yet Asa Coon despite suspension, successfully entered and brought two .38 caliber handguns, ammunition, and three knives.
Despite SuccessTech being a "close-knit" school, Coon was able to continuously flaunt his disturbing behavior in front of teachers and students, violate his suspension without anyone stopping him, successfully bypass
We're lucky he didn't take lives other than his own. It could have been much worse. Despite the school being "close-knit" and despite its security, a suspended kid intent on murder was easily able to get in.
Asa Coon is proof that the only thing good about gun free zones is a good feeling, the sense of security no matter how false.
Update: The Cleveland Metro blog has more:
Asa Coon grew up in a family where violence seemed commonplace. His older brother, Stephen, was twice charged with both domestic violence and assault by the time he was 13. He was recently released from prison.
Court records show that his father's whereabouts are largely unknown.
The Department of Children and Family Services was called to the Coon home in 2000 because Asa had burns on his arms and scratches on his forehead.
When he was 12, Asa was charged in Juvenile Court with domestic violence. His mother, Lori, had called the police and told them that Asa slapped her and called her a vulgar name. She had been trying to intervene in a fight between Asa and his twin sister Nicole.
"He's a very hyper kid," said Rachel Metzger, who lives near the Coons. "He's constantly yelling at his mom or anybody else. He's pretty violent."
Update: This myspace page looks like a fake.
Update: That was fast, the myspace page is down. I still think it's a fake, but here's a screen shot of it. As the Cleveland Metro Blog notes, Asa Coon was chubby, but this picture is not of a chubby kid.
Previously: The Ohio School Shooting.
Recently: Asa Coon, Video, Photos.
1. Thanks to commenter bmcp:Reports are out saying no metal detectors were used Wednesday. Bmcp also notes the student-to-teacher ratio.