One day earlier, a classmate remembers, the ninth-grade boy on the Onalaska High School bus "was happy, he was fine."
But Thursday morning, the 15-year-old boy carried a 9mm semiautomatic handgun as he boarded the bus on a rural road. He ordered his 14-year-old girlfriend off the bus and took her to his home, where he told her he was considering suicide and shot a hole in the wall.Then the boy shot himself in the head, authorities said.
He died less than 12 hours later at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, 70 miles north of this tiny timber and farming town in southwest Washington. His name was not released.
No one on the bus was hurt. The girl was not wounded by gunfire but was slightly injured when her father broke down the door to the boy's house after hearing a shot.
"He seemed like a normal, ordinary kid, a boy-next-door kind of kid," said Sandra Struthers, 18, who has known the boy and girl for some time. "It's not something you think will ever happen in your town."
Authorities were puzzled about a motive.
"It wasn't like she was dumping him," said Lewis County sheriff's Sgt. Brad Borden. "He had two girlfriends and just didn't know what to do. I don't have a clue. We don't know why he went on that school bus."
Struthers and two younger girls - freshmen Jessica Lane, 16, and Carrie Bostwick, 15 - said they were unaware of any other girlfriend.
All three said the couple had been together for some time, decided to break up but then got back together.
"I just never thought would ever, ever do anything like this," said Lane, who was not on the bus Thursday. "Yesterday on the bus he was happy, he was fine."