Details emerge on Omaha high school shooting
Fri, 07 Jan 2011 12:12:26 GMT —
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) " Part of Vicki Kaspar's job at Millard South High School was disciplining students " and so it fell to her to tell Robert Butler Jr. that he would be suspended after driving his car across an athletic field.
Hours later, police say Butler walked back into the Omaha school and opened fire on two administrators, fatally wounding Kaspar, an assistant principal known for her kindness and making it a priority to see that her students were successful.Newsblab
"She cared about her job and she cared about doing it well. She cared about helping kids. She put in exhaustive hours. She never went home until the work was done," said Martha Bruckner, a superintendent in a neighboring district.
After shooting Kaspar, Butler wounded the principal and fled before killing himself.
Police said Butler had calmly accepted the suspension Wednesday morning before going home to speak with some friends and his father, who is an Omaha police detective " all the while giving no hint of turning violent. But after his father left to run errands, the 17-year-old took his dad's service weapon from a closet, posted an ominous message on Facebook predicting he would do "evil things" and headed back to the school to confront Kaspar.
The married mother of three sons would have turned 59 on Thursday and had worked her way up at Millard South, starting as an English teacher in 1988 and becoming an administrator after her children were raised. She was named assistant principal in 1998.
"She is a very, very kind, gentle, caring woman," said retired English teacher Phyllis Glab. "She would do anything for anyone. She loved working with the kids. She did everything to give every kid a break to given them a chance to be successful."
Ray and Cathy Levesque, whose daughter married Kaspar's son Ron Kaspar Jr., said the family was with her at the hospital when she died Wednesday evening. Vicki Kaspar's sons did not return phone messages left by The Associated Press.
"We couldn't have asked for a better mother-in-law for our daughter. I wish I had known her longer," Ray Levesque said.
Classes were scheduled to resume at Millard South on Friday, and counseling will be offered to students.
Butler had transferred to Omaha in the fall from a school in Lincoln, about 50 miles away. On New Year's Day, he had been cited for criminal trespassing after driving his car on the school's football field and track, police said, and Kaspar met with him the first day back after the holiday break.
When Butler returned hours later, he took the time to sign in at the administrative office, asking to meet with Kaspar. Police said Butler had been in her office about four minutes with the door closed before he shot her. He then walked across a hallway and shot Principal Curtis Case, who had gotten up to find out what was going on after hearing the gunshots.
"The fact he got up and went over there is demonstrative of how he treated the people who worked for him," said Bruckner, superintendent of the Council Bluffs school district in Iowa who worked with Case for several years in Nebraska. "He didn't think about himself and his own safety."
Butler also fired at a custodian and missed, and debris hit a school nurse, who was not seriously hurt.
Case, 44, was improving at an Omaha hospital and has been able to speak with family members, according to Superintendent Keith Lutz.
Greg Tiemann, a principal at nearby Millard West High School, said the married father of two daughters and a son is a close friend and golfing buddy.
"He is a family man with strong faith," Tiemann said. "But above all, the students are No. 1 in his building."
Butler's parents decided to transfer him to Omaha because he was having disciplinary problems in Lincoln and had not been listening to his mother, who is divorced from Butler's father and remarried, police Chief Alex Hayes said.
Butler's father didn't have any reason to expect his son would turn violent because the teen did not seem distraught and had no history of mental illness, Hayes said.
After word of the shooting spread, panicked students took shelter in the school's kitchen and in locked classrooms while police checked the building.
Butler's rambling message on Facebook described his unhappiness with the school but did not supply many details.
He wrote that the Omaha school was worse than his previous one, and that the new city had changed him. He apologized and said he wanted people to remember him for who he was before affecting "the lives of the families I ruined." The post ended with "goodbye."
Crumb reported from Des Moines, Iowa. Assocated Press writer Ryan J. Foley also contributed to this report.Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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