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Kip Kinkel - A Day Of Tragedy

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Throughout the fall of 1997 and into 1998 the United States experienced a sudden outbreak of school shootings, each highlighted in the national media. Schools were on alert and there was little tolerance for weapons violations. On May 20, 1998, Kip and another freshman were arrested at Thurston High School on charges involving the possession and sale of a stolen handgun.

Kip was taken to the Springfield Police Station where he was fingerprinted and photographed. He was charged with five felonies, the most serious being possession of a firearm on school grounds. Among other things, Kip would be suspended from school for a year. Bill Kinkel picked his son up around noon and they stopped for lunch at a local restaurant. They agreed not to upset Kip's mother with the news while she was working. They would wait for her to get home that evening. Kip was especially sensitive to the fact that his parents were teachers and he had embarrassed them in front of their peers.

Father and son were home by 2:00 P.M. that afternoon and both received phone calls from friends. Bill Kinkel also made a call to the director of a residential program for troubled teens in Bend. Sometime between 3:00 and 4:30 P.M. that afternoon, Kip took a .22 rifle and shot his father in the back of the head from about ten feet away. He took the body into the bathroom and covered it with a white sheet, then waited for his mother to come home. Faith Kinkel arrived home from work around 6:30 P.M. Kip went down to the garage to help her Kip Kinkel puts his head down in court while waiting to hear his sentence after he pleaded guilty to killing four people and injuring twenty-five others. (AP/Wide World Photos)
carry up groceries. He told his mother he loved her, then shot her several times and covered her body with a sheet.

Kip stayed up all that night and then drove his mother's car into Springfield. He arrived at Thurston High School around eight on the morning of May 21 and parked a block away. Wearing a long tan trench coat to hide the pistols in his waistband and the rifle at his side, Kip headed toward the school cafeteria. By the time he was wrestled to the ground by classmates, Kip had killed two students and wounded twenty-five more.


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