|Subject: Not to hammer a point, but...|
Date Posted: 06:36:32 05/10/01 Thu
Check this story out. Pay special attention to the part about how he found the gun.
14-year-old boy denies he planned to kill teacher
May 8, 2001
Web posted at: 6:32 PM EDT (2232 GMT) CNN.
WEST PALM BEACH, Florida (CNN) -- A 14-year-old boy charged with murdering his language arts teacher testified Tuesday he had no plans to kill the man he called his favorite teacher.
Nathaniel Brazill showed little emotion on the stand during two hours of testimony. He described pulling out a handgun on the last day of classes last May when Lake Worth Community Middle School teacher Barry Grunow would not let him talk to two friends in private. Lake Worth is the city just south of West Palm Beach.
Brazill had returned to the campus after being sent home earlier in the day for getting in a water balloon fight.
Brazill, who was 13 at the time, said Grunow did not appear to be "taking him seriously" and so he cocked the gun to let him know it was real. He said Grunow told him to "get that out of my face."
"Immediately after that, that's when the gun went off," he said.
Brazill said he did not recall pulling the trigger and he believed the gun's safety was on. He said he remembers clutching the gun with two hands and trembling with tears in his eyes when he was pointing the gun at Grunow.
Why did he have tears, asked his attorney Robert Udell.
"You're standing there thinking about what's going on and that makes you sad," Brazill said.
"You realized what you're doing is ridiculous?"
"Yes," the boy responded.
He said he took off running after the gun fired and pointed the gun at another teacher who was moving toward him. "I told him, 'Don't bother me,'" Brazill said.
With teachers, students and at least two officers in pursuit, he ran toward a nearby park to call the police to turn himself in, he said. But before he did that, he saw an officer he knew from a recreation center, told him what he had done and turned himself in peacefully, Brazill said.
Why didn't he just stop after the gun went off?
"I was scared ... scared of what was going on," he said.
Brazill described Grunow, a father of two, as a "nice guy" and a "good teacher" who "made his class fun."
Grunow had given him an "F" on a progress report about a week before the shooting, but Brazill said he had no ill-will toward his favorite teacher and that he had completed the necessary work to pass the class.
"Are you a psycho?" Udell asked Brazill.
"No," Brazill said.
"Are you demented?"
"What does that mean?" Brazill asked.
"It means are you a cold-blooded killer?"
"No," Brazill said.
"Did you mean to harm Mr. Grunow?"
Brazill, wearing a dark sweater, collared shirt and dark tie, portrayed himself as an average student who made decent grades in school with an occasional "D," typically in science class. He said he was a boy who liked to "joke around with his friends" and "liked to make people laugh."
He said he hoped to enter law enforcement one day and said he once wrote the White House about his hopes of becoming a Secret Service agent protecting the president.
About a week before the shooting, he said, he found a gun and bullets inside a cookie tin in his grandfather's room. He was looking for a telephone at the time, he said, and thought he was going to get a cookie out of the tin. Instead he saw the gun.
Brazill said he thought, "Oh, wow, a gun." He said he then hid it in a bag with five bullets, hoping that his uncle would show him how to shoot it during a coming trip to South Carolina. Two days later, he said, he showed the gun to two friends.
On May 26, the day of the shooting, Brazill was suspended and sent home early because of a water balloon fight. He said was extremely bothered by the suspension and wanted his grandmother's and aunt's help to try to clear it up.
But, he said, he never asked them for their help because his grandmother's car was being worked on and he could not find his aunt. He went home and got the gun.
"Why'd you take the gun?" Udell asked.
"I was just carrying it. I didn't have any plan of using it," he said.
His testimony ended for the day before cross-examination.
Earlier in the day, the prosecution rested its case. Brazill was the first witness called by the defense.
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