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Frontier Middle School shooting: Wikis


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Frontier Middle School shooting
Location Moses Lake, Washington, U.S.A
Date Friday, February 2, 1996 (UTC-8)
Attack type School shooting, spree killing, hostage taking
Weapon(s) .30-30 caliber rifle, .357 caliber pistol, .25 caliber pistol
Death(s) 3
Injured 1
Perpetrator Barry Dale Loukaitis

The Frontier Middle School shooting was a school shooting that occurred on February 2, 1996 at Frontier Middle School in Moses Lake, Washington, United States. The gunman, 14-year-old Barry Dale Loukaitis, killed his algebra teacher and two students, and held his classmates hostage for 10 minutes before a gym coach subdued Loukaitis. He is currently serving two life sentences and an additional 205 years in prison.


The shooting

On the day of the shooting, Loukaitis was dressed as a wild west-style gunslinger and was wearing a black duster. He was armed with a .30-30 caliber hunting rifle and two handguns (.357 caliber pistol and .25 caliber semiautomatic pistol) that belonged to his father, and was carrying approximately 78 rounds of ammunition.

Loukaitis walked from his house to his school, where he had entered his algebra classroom during fifth-period. He fatally shot his algebra teacher Leona Caires in the chest. As his classmates began to panic, Loukaitis reportedly said, "This sure beats algebra, doesn't it?", a quote from the Stephen King novel Rage. He then subsequently fired at students, killing two and wounding another. Hearing the gunshots, gym coach Jon Lane entered the classroom. Loukaitis was holding his classmates hostage, and planned to use one hostage so he could safely exit the school. Lane volunteered as the hostage, and Loukaitis was keeping Lane at gun point with his rifle. Lane then grabbed the weapon from Loukaitis and wrestled him to the ground, and assisted the evacuation of students.

Lane kept Loukaitis subdued until police arrived at the scene. The two students that were killed were 14-year-olds Arnold Fritz, Jr. and Manuel Vela. Another student, 13-year-old Natalie Hintz, sustained gunshot wounds to the right arm and abdomen, and was treated at a local hospital.


In June 1996, the Spokane Court of Appeals were to come to a decision whether 15-year-old Barry Loukaitis should be tried as an adult or juvenile.[1] On July 2, three members of the Spokane Court of Appeals convinced Judge Evan Sperline to allow court-appointed psychiatrist Joan Petrich to present a testimony based on Loukaitis' mental health.[2] The trial was later moved to Seattle, Washington due to media publicity. Loukaitis had pleaded insanity on all charges against him,[3] and claimed that "mood swings" were the cause of his violent actions. During his trial, Joan Petrich testified that Loukaitis had been experiencing delusional and messianic thoughts before the shooting. She had stated, "He felt like he was God and would laugh to himself. He felt he was superior to other people, and then those feelings were later replaced by hate, disdain, and not measuring up."

Prosecutors Donna Wise and John Knodell argued that Loukaitis had carefully planned the shooting,[4] getting ideas from the Pearl Jam song Jeremy. The music video from Jeremy shows a troubled youth committing suicide in front of his teacher and classmates. Prosecution also said that he had gotten ideas from the Stephen King novel Rage and the films Natural Born Killers and The Basketball Diaries. Loukaitis has also stated that he tried to model his life after the novel's protagonist Charlie Decker, who kills two teachers and takes his algebra class hostage.

On September 24, 1997, Loukaitis was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder, one count of second-degree murder, one count of first-degree attempted murder, and 16 counts of aggravated kidnapping.[5][6] He was sentenced to serve two life sentences and an additional 205 years without the possibility of parole. He is currently imprisoned at the Clallam Bay Corrections Center in Washington State. The Washington State Court of Appeals denied Loukaitis's request for a new trial in 1999.

Perpetrator and motives

In the year prior to the shooting, the Loukaitis family was facing some dysfunctional-issues.[7] Loukaitis' parents separated in 1995, after his mother discovered her husband was having an affair. She filed for divorce against her husband in January 1996. His mother, Jo Ann Phillips, was a domineering woman who became increasingly distant and began speaking of suicide. She would frequently imply that her son Barry would also have to kill himself, and that the date of the double-suicide would be on Valentine's Day of 1996.[8] Barry convinced his mother out of doing so, by having her write down her feelings.[7]

Loukaitis suffered from hyperactivity, and was taking Ritalin at the time of the shooting. He also suffered from clinical depression, a mental illness present in the last three generations of the Loukaitis family, and last four generations of the Phillips family.

It was widely believed that Loukaitis had suffered severe bullying at school. Those who knew him claim that he complained of being beaten by other students, teased and harassed, and having his head stuffed in toilets. On one occasion, he was held down by one student in a boys' locker room while another student urinated on him. Loukaitis claimed that he only intended on killing Manuel Vela,[9][10] and that the other deaths were accidental. Vela had allegedly taunted and humiliated Loukaitis. The latter also claimed that he wanted to enact revenge on Vela for calling him a "fag" a few days before the shooting. His deteriorating mental health and being bullied is believed to have caused Loukaitis to carry out his actions.


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