BOWLING GREEN, KYFor weeks, 11-year-old Brian Kolodiczek loudly boasted to classmates that he was going to get back at everyone who had caused him problems at school, everyone who had kept him from being popular and successful.
At 1:15 p.m. Monday, Kolodiczek fired two dozen rounds into a helpless crowd assembled on the playground behind Stephen C. Calhoun Elementary School, killing nine students and four teachers, and solving all of the fifth-grader's problems in the process.
"Brian was a troubled young boy. He felt like he didn't fit in with the other kids," school guidance counselor Camille Evans said. "But now that he's killed the classmates who upset him the most, things should be a lot better for him."
Among the slain children was Larry Eichhorn, 11, pronounced dead at the scene. Kolodiczek was reportedly jealous of Eichhorn, who outshone him on the track team. "Larry was faster than Brian and anchored the relay team, and that always made Brian very angry," said track coach Buddy Miller, who shortly after the murder promoted Kolodiczek to relay anchor. "I guess Brian's the fastest now, though."
Critically wounded in the attack was 10-year-old Holly Walsh. According to Walsh's best friend, Monica Reardon, Kolodiczek "really liked Holly, but she would never talk to him. She'd pretend he wasn't there or get me to tell him to leave her alone." Early this morning, in her first statement since the shooting occurred, Walsh said she would "love to go out to a movie" with Kolodiczek as soon as she is released from the hospital.
Calhoun Elementary principal Benjamin Brundage, who had met with Kolodiczek and his parents on numerous occasions over the years, said the boy was "frequently upset about certain teachers who he felt made unreasonable demands of him. In particular, he believed that his math teacher, Evelyn Baird, hated him and wanted him to fail."
Baird was among the four teachers killed in the assault.
"Maybe he'll get along with the new math teacher better," Brundage said. "If so, I think we can expect a big improvement in his grades. If not, he still has the gun."
The other dead faculty members are drama teacher Marcia Crosley, who did not cast Brian in the school play; English teacher Donald Baum, who frequently criticized his penmanship; and social-studies teacher Stephen Reedy, who advised him to "lay off the Nintendo a bit."
Music teacher Stella Hammond, who on May 11 made Brian stand in the back of the class with a tambourine, is in critical condition with a perforated lung.
Experts say Kolodiczek's actions are part of an emerging trend in pre-adolescent behavior, a trend child psychiatrist Owen Green termed "shooting everybody you don't like."
"Brian was bothered by all kinds of things at this school," Green said. "But did he just sit there and complain about it? No. He realized that complaining is not a solution. Instead, he took action. And the results speak for themselves."
Despite the marked improvement in Kolodiczek's situation as a result of the shooting, some are saying that the bloody rampage was no solution at all.
Said assistant principal Patrick Chernin: "Bobby Pratt, a classmate of Brian's who called him 'diaper baby' and made fun of his lunch box, was barely grazed on the leg in the shooting. He'll be back at school tomorrow. And another boy who regularly taunts Brian at his bus stop was absent altogether. Brian's problems have not entirely gone away, I assure you."
Dr. Andrew Goldwyn, one of many grief counselors and specially trained therapists who will be on hand at Calhoun Elementary all next week, said that helping the students come to terms with the death of their friends will be a fairly easy task.
"We will emphasize the positive side of this eventthat their classmate Brian has eliminated many sources of pain and annoyance in his life," Goldwyn said. "That's a good thing."
"Hopefully," Goldwyn continued, "a valuable lesson will come out of this shooting. Hopefully, these kids will learn that, like Brian, they too have the power to solve their own problems."