The man accused in a school shooting spree that left an 8-year-old girl dead and 10 people wounded says he was copying a similar rampage by a woman in Winnetka, Ill.
James William Wilson, 19, also said that as he pulled the trigger on his grandfather's .22-caliber pistol, he was thinking about being picked on by classmates at other schools for being overweight and dressing funny, The State newspaper of Columbia reported Thursday.Children in this city 75 miles northwest of Columbia returned to classes at the 600-pupil Oakland Elementary School Thursday for the first time since Monday's rampage.
Leah Holmes, 8, her arm in a sling from a gunshot wound she suffered Monday, shook her head emphatically and said "Nope," when asked whether she was scared to return to school. But other children and parents arriving at the school said they were nervous.
There was a police officer on every corner of the school grounds and at least three officers were stationed at the front of the building as parents and children arrived.
"We're a little nervous, but it's just been a shock primarily," said Alan Maxwell, as he walked his daughter Katy to school.
Wilson, who is charged with murder, was interviewed Wednesday by the newspaper by telephone at the State Hospital in Columbia, where he is undergoing psychological testing. Relatives have described him as a hyperactive recluse who has been in and out of a hospital psychiatric unit during the past eight months.
Witnesses said Wilson shot pupils who screamed during Monday's incident.
"I thought some of the students in the school were after me," Wilson said in the interview. "I was trying to make them be quiet.
"I feel real bad about what happened."
On May 20, Laurie Dann killed an 8-year-old boy and wounded six people in and around a school in the affluent Chicago suburb of Winnetka before killing herself.
"I could understand where she was coming from," Wilson said. "I think I may have copied her in a way."
He said he was thinking about an article about Dann that he had torn from a magazine. "I read it every day," he said.