05/25/2006

Pa. student arrested after bringing gun, other weapons to school

By MICHAEL RUBINKAM
Associated Press Writer

NORTHAMPTON, Pennsylvania- A high school student distraught over a breakup with his girlfriend brought a loaded rifle in a guitar case to school Thursday, but was safely taken into custody, authorities said.

Max Brotzman, 18, also brought a hunting knife, a box-cutter, firecrackers and smoke bombs with him to Northampton Area Senior High School, local police said. Northampton is about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Philadelphia.

"He has had a problem with his girlfriend. His girlfriend left him, and he was thinking of ending it all," said Detective Robert Lindenmoyer.

Lindenmoyer, the school principal and others spent 40 minutes talking to Brotzman in an unused third-floor stairwell before he agreed to surrender, the detective said.

Brotzman was taken to a psychiatric hospital for evaluation. He was expected to be charged with two misdemeanors, including bringing a weapon to school, police said.

The .22-caliber rifle came from the teen's home in Walnutport, police said. Some of the other items were found in his backpack.

He was smoking and playing music in the stairwell when a teacher went to investigate and found him sitting with the rifle, officials said.

"He said he was not going to harm anyone," Superintendent Linda Firestone said.

The 12th grader has had some disciplinary problems in the past, she said.

"No one was in danger at any time other than the student himself," Firestone said. "No one was held at gunpoint."

The school was evacuated shortly after 8 a.m. and the approximately 2,000 students directed to the school's nearby football field.

Police officers and dogs searched the school without finding anything, and school officials planned to resume classes later. However, some students walked home while parents arrived to pick up others.

"My mom was hyperventilating on the phone. She said to come home immediately," said Ellie Berlin, a 16-year-old sophomore.

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