Teen accused of shooting 4 classmates faces more charges
SPOKANE, Wash. — Prosecutors filed 51 new charges Wednesday against a 15-year-old boy accused of fatally shooting a classmate and wounding three others at his rural Washington state high school.
Caleb Sharpe already has been charged with first-degree murder and three counts of attempted first-degree murder in the Sept. 13 shooting at Freeman High School near the tiny town of Rockford. He previously pleaded not guilty.
Spokane County prosecutors upgraded the murder charge to premeditated murder and added 51 counts of assault, representing other students in the vicinity of the gunfire, according to court documents.
Sharpe also appeared in court for the first time, where a judge said a decision on whether to try the teen as an adult will not occur until next year. In juvenile court, Spokane County Superior Court Judge Michael Price set an April 2 date for a weeklong hearing, saying the case was too complex to hold it within 14 days as required by law.
Defense attorney Bevan Maxey agreed with the delay, though his client will remain in custody.
“I have all kinds of concern for him being in jail,” Maxey said. “This is a process that is going to take place. Everybody needs to be properly prepared.”
The Associated Press doesn’t typically name juvenile suspects but is doing so because of the severity of the accusations and because Sharpe’s name was released in public documents.
“We would prefer he be handled as a juvenile,” the defense attorney said. “That’s what he is; 15 years old.”
Family members of Sharpe and the victims filled the small courtroom but did not talk to reporters afterward. Sharpe did not speak at the hearing.
Court documents released Wednesday say Sharpe determined whether to carry out the shooting by flipping a coin. Detectives wrote in court documents that heads meant Sharpe would shoot students and tails meant he would not do it and never think about it again. The coin landed on heads, according to documents.
Sharpe also told detectives that he had been watching documentaries of other school shootings, including Columbine and Sandy Hook, for about a year, court documents said.
The documents said Sharpe told detectives about loading his father’s assault rifle into a golf bag and putting a handgun in his pocket, The Spokesman-Review reported.
Once inside the school, Sharpe pulled out the rifle, which jammed, so he discarded it and pulled the pistol out, shooting a 15-year-old classmate in the abdomen and face, killing him, court documents said.
The teen then walked down a hallway, firing into the ceiling before wounding three female students, authorities have said. Sharpe told police that he had been bullied by the boy who died but did not target him specifically.
“Sharpe said the plan went exactly as intended,” detectives wrote in court documents. “His plan was to shoot some people at school, just like he did. Sharpe said he was not planning on shooting any particular people; he just planned on shooting people in general.”
Detective Mike Drapeau wrote in court documents that he found Sharpe’s yearbook in a search of Sharpe’s home and that someone had placed an “X Kill” on photos of 26 students.
Officials have said Sharpe previously had given friends notes indicating he was going to do something that may cause others harm. School officials have confirmed that they had suspended him and ordered a mental health evaluation before he was allowed to return to school.