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Teenage gunman wounds four in Ohio high school

A 14-year-old boy with a gun in each hand let loose a hail of bullets in his Ohio high school on Wednesday, wounding four people before killing himself.

world Updated: Oct 11, 2007 08:03 IST

A 14-year-old boy with a gun in each hand let loose a hail of bullets in his Ohio high school on Wednesday, wounding four people before killing himself in the latest school shooting to rock the United States.

Screams rang out as the sound of shots echoed through the hallways at Success Tech Academy, witnesses said.

Students and teachers huddled in hastily locked classrooms, some hiding under desks and in closets, while police swept the building for the shooter.

When the boy's body was discovered on the fourth floor, the students were allowed to leave and poured into the street to find their friends and family. Many were in tears and clutching cell phones to their ears.

It was a scene becoming far too familiar and reminiscent of the horrors eight years ago of the Columbine high school shooting in Colorado and a deadlier bloodbath at Virginia Tech earlier this year.

Those shootings led to a period of introspection across the United States as the country contemplated the downside of its celebrated "gun culture," but failed to produce laws or other changes to make firearms less available.

While school officials in Cleveland scrambled to organize counseling sessions for those caught in the crossfire Wednesday, many said they were grateful it wasn't any worse.

Darnell Rogers, 18, was one of two students shot as he was walking up the stairs to go to class at around 1 p.m. (1700 GMT). He was released from hospital after a few hours because the bullet only hit him in the elbow.

"I'm shocked, sad and scared and worried about my other classmates and the teachers," he told reporters.

"I never thought it would personally happen at my school ... It can happen anywhere."

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.

"He said if he would shoot up the school he'd let me and some other dude go, but I didn't think he meant it," an unidentified student told news station WKYC.

"I didn't think he meant it," he said. "I thought he just said it because he wanted to be popular."

WKYC reported the boy was frustrated after he was suspended from school for getting into a fist fight over a Marilyn Manson song on Monday.

Police said they believed the boy went to school to shoot his teachers. One was shot in the back and another was shot in the chest. Both were in stable condition, officials said.

"We don't have any specific motives at this time," police chief Michael McGrath told a press conference.

"We do know the shooter had some disciplinary problems," he added.

The boy, identified as Asa Coon, was arrested in 2006 on charges of domestic violence, and police had visited his home for other reasons on a number of occasions, McGrath said.

A surveillance camera captured much of the carnage, including Coon's suicide.

"It appears the shooter went into a classroom, looked out the window and shot himself," McGrath said, adding that the Coon would have seen the building was surrounded by police.

"There were no plans or notes on the body of the shooter that we know of," he said.

Police did find two handguns, a box of ammunition and three knives either on or near his body.

It was just the latest in a spate of shootings in recent weeks.

Two 17-year-old students were wounded when they were shot by a gunman at Delaware State University last month.

On Tuesday, two people were killed and two others injured in a shooting at a workshop in Simi Valley, California, often listed among the country's safest communities.

And on Sunday, a gun-toting sheriff's deputy went on a rampage, killing his ex-girlfriend and five other youths at a house party in a small town in Wisconsin.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation reported last month that more than 1.4 million murders, rapes, robberies and assaults were committed around the United States last year, or a violent crime every 22 seconds.

The number of victims of violent crime in the United States last year was the equivalent of the entire population of European Union member Estonia or the African state of Gabon falling victim to murder, rape, robbery or assault.

The rate of violent crime was up by 1.9 per cent compared with 2005, with murders climbing by 1.8 percent to nearly 15,000 cases last year.