Student Wanted To Shoot Teacher, Kills Substitute Instead: Classmates

Student Wanted To Shoot Teacher, Kills Substitute Instead: Classmates

A teen-ager intended to kill his French teacher because he was flunking, but instead shot to death her substitute, classmates said after a shooting rampage that left three other people wounded.


Kristofer Hans, 14, went to a Fergus High School classroom on Thursday, knocked on the door and asked the teacher to come to the door, police said.


Henrietta Smith, who was substituting for LaVonne Simonfy, was shot in the face and died. Ms. Simonfy was helping with a girls’ basketball tournament in the gym.


Hans fired several other shots as he fled the school, wounding a vice principal and two students and sending others screaming through the halls, authorities said. He then ran about a mile to his home, where his parents turned him over to police.


Classmate Shannon Foucher said Hans had threatened to kill Ms. Simonfy on Wednesday but he said he couldn’t get a gun. When Hans repeated the threat Thursday, Foucher thought he was joking.


″He turned around and looked at me and said ‘I’m going to blow Simonfy’s head off.’ I laughed and said ’Sure you are,‴ Foucher said. ″I did not see the gun until he pulled it out of his coat. He just shot once. It was supposed to be Simonfy, but he shot Miss Smith.″


Hans was charged with being a delinquent youth for reason of committing deliberate homicide in the death of Smith and attempted deliberate homicide in the wounding of Vice Principal John Moffatt, Fergus County Attorney Craig Buehler said.


Hans was taken to a juvenile detention facility in Billings, 130 miles southeast of here, for counseling and for his protection ″because of the type of crime involved,″ Buehler said. District Judge Peter L. Rapkoch was scheduled to hold a hearing for the youth this afternoon in Billings, the county attorney said.


Classes resumed today at Fergus High as school officials called in counselors, psychologists and clergy to help students and staff deal with the shootings.


″We felt it was important to have school and not leave kids hanging out ... just hearing rumors,″ said Superintendent Jim Turner. ″People are going to have some tough feelings to deal with.″


He added: ″A school is a safe place to be and when a teacher is killed in the classroom it’s obviously a traumatic thing. ... I sure have a lot of admiration for the way people have pulled together to help each other.″

Students recalled Mrs. Smith, a 40-year-old mother of two who lived in nearby Moore, as a well-liked substitute.


″She was nice. ... said Tonya Tuss, 18, a senior. ″She was here a lot. She subbed for everybody - government, language, English.″


Other classmates said Hans was failing French and had talked about shooting his teacher.


″Some of the kids laughed at him and said they didn’t believe he’d do it,″ said freshman Rachel Stein, 14.


Principal Bob Raver said the students were speculating and that he had no information about any threats. Officials in this central Montana community of 7,000 declined to discuss motive until witnesses were interviewed.


Immediately after the shooting, fans attending the basketball tournament were confined to the gymnasium and students were taken to the auditorium until word came that the suspect was in custody, Raver said.


Police Chief Russell Dunnington said Hans had gone to the classroom where Smith was teaching and knocked on the door.


″A student opened the door, and he asked for the teacher that was in there. The teacher came to the door, and he pulled the gun and shot her,″ Dunnington said.


″He left that room, went down the hall, an assistant principal was there, and he fired at him, striking him in the midsection. He continued down the hall, turned back and fired one more time at the assistant principal.


″He went down a flight of stairs to the lower level. A group of students there yelled ‘What’s going on?’ then he turned and fired one more shot and ran out of the building,″ the police chief said.


Foucher, a freshman, said he was standing next to Hans when the substitute teacher was shot. Hans pointed the gun at him after the shooting but didn’t fire, he said


″I took off and ran to the office,″ Foucher said. ″I could not talk; all I could say is ‘He’s got a gun, he’s got a gun.’ Lots of kids were screaming and crying.″


Moffatt, 36, was listed as stable after surgery Thursday night at Central Montana Hospital, authorities said. The wounded students, Nina Challans and Laurie Damone, were not seriously injured.


Dunnington said the bullet that hit Moffatt apparently went through his body and ricocheted, with fragments hitting the two students in the feet or the lower legs.