What began as a school-hostage incident ended as a vandalism spree.
A 14-year-old student pulled a gun on the principal of the school for troubled youths Thursday but gave up after he traded two handguns for cigarettes, pizza, pop and chips and the school was trashed.The youth, identified by the principal as Mitchell Gushwa, initially held about a dozen students inside The Alternate School and demanded cigarettes and liquor.
Eventually all but four - two boys and two girls - left. "They (the students who left) told us there was no real effort on the part of the suspect to keep them there," said police Lt. Garry Pritchett.
Police said the four who remained with Gushwa until he gave up nearly five hours later had stayed voluntarily.
Charges may be filed against some of the other students.
"The release of hostages was never an issue of the negotiations. They wanted food, alcohol and tobacco," said Pritchett.
"They ate all the pizza, they drank all the pop and they trashed the whole building," said police Capt. Mike Stayner.
The incident began about 8:30 a.m. as principal Paul Matthews, a secretary, three teachers and some 15-20 students met in the multipurpose room. Matthews had just begun his daily routine of explaining what would be on the students' agenda when Gushwa pulled a gun.
Student Jesse Hernandez told the Idaho State Journal that Gushwa said he was going to kill a teacher.
"He was loading his gun while the principal talked and when he cocked it, the teachers looked over and then he pulled it out," Hernandez said. "He said a bunch of swear words and put the gun in my face."
Gushwa ordered the teachers into another room and fired one round from a .45-caliber semiautomatic into the ceiling above a door, police said.
Matthews said the eighth-grader had been attending the school for about a month and on Wednesday had threatened to kill him. The principal, the secretary, the teachers and about half the students made it out of the school after Gushwa brandished his gun.
"I saw him pull the gun and I picked up a table and threw it. I tried to get as many kids out as possible," Matthews said later.
Casey McNabb, 13, was late and arrived to find police cordoning off the surrounding area and evacuating nearby homes. McNabb said Gushwa, his best friend, had confided Wednesday night what he planned to do.
"He asked me, `Should I do it, Casey?' " said McNabb, who didn't believe his friend would follow through.
A student in Gushwa's class, LaToya Gonzalez, 15, said, "He's a freak. He cuts up his arms with a razor blade."
There was no answer at the Gushwa residence. The boy's father, Doug, is a local optometrist.
After police refused Gushwa's initial demand for liquor and cigarettes, he agreed about 90 minutes after the standoff began to trade a .22 semiautomatic for three packs of Marlboros. About 12:30 p.m., the boy gave up his .45-caliber semiautomatic for a large Domino's combination pizza, a variety of soda pop, bags of chips and a hat to hide his face when he emerged, police said.
"If I can trade a pack of cigarettes for the life of a 14-year-old, I'll do it any day," Prichett said later. Police believe the guns were stolen in a burglary.
During the standoff, which drew 50 to 60 law enforcement officers and a SWAT team, windows and film projectors inside the school were broken, soda was poured on the carpet, paper towels were burned and fire extinguishers set off, police said.