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October 09, 2006
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Mo. student gunman talked out of violence in 'close call'

The Associated Press

JOPLIN, Missouri- A 13-year-old student fired an AK-47 inside his middle school Monday morning after confronting two others students and his principal, but no one was injured, authorities said.

The student was wearing a mask and pointed the assault rifle at Principal Steve Gilbreth, Assistant Superintendent Steve Doerr and two students, saying, "not to make me do this," Superintendent Jim Simpson said.

Simpson said the teen then fired a shot into the ceiling, breaking a water pipe, and said again, "Please don't make me do this."

"It was a very close call," Simpson said.

Doerr and Gilbreth persuaded the student to leave the building, where he was confronted by two police officers with weapons drawn. The student dropped the rifle and was taken into custody, Simpson said. The student's identity was not released.

Joplin police Officer Curt Farmer said officers found a note in the student's backpack indicating that he had placed an explosive in the school, which has about 700 students. Students in the school were moved to nearby Joplin Memorial Hall, and the school was closed while officers searched the building.

The student was wearing a mask and apparently had been planning an attack for a "long time," Simpson said. He didn't elaborate and said authorities did not know whether others were involved.

Joplin, which has about 40,900 residents, is in southwest Missouri, on the Kansas border about 140 miles south of Kansas City.

Schools across the country have been on alert after three deadly school shootings in three states in the span of a week, and several schools have been locked down or closed entirely during the past two weeks because of threats.

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