RICHARDSON - A Richardson High School sophomore, described as a loner who had been in counseling, fatally shot himself Tuesday in front of a classroom of about 30 students.
Jeremy Wade Delle, 16, who had transferred from a Dallas school, died instantly after firing a .357-caliber Magnum into his mouth about 9:45 a.m. police said.
Because he had missed class, the teacher in his second-period English class told Jeremy to get an admittance slip from the school office. Instead, he returned with the gun, police said.
He walked directly to the front of the classroom.
"Miss, I got what I really went for," he said, then placed the barrel in his mouth and fired, according to Sgt. Ray Pennington, a police spokesman.
The shooting occurred before the students or teacher Faye Barnett could react, said school district spokeswoman Susan Dacus-Wilson.
It stunned students and faculty members throughout the school at 1250 W. Belt Line Road.
Brian Jackson, 16, said he was working the combination on his locker just outside Jeremy's English class when he heard a loud bang "like someone had just slammed a book on a desk."
"I thought they were doing a play or something," he said. "But then I heard a scream and a blond girl came running out of the classroom and she was crying." Frightened, but curious, Brian looked into the classroom and saw Jeremy lying on the floor bleeding.
"The teacher was standing against the wall crying and shaking," Brian said. "Some people were standing around her holding her as if to keep her from falling."
Another student, Howard Felman, an 11th-grader, was in government class when he heard the shot. At first students joked about the noise, thinking that someone was playing around, he said.
"But then we heard a girl running down the hall screaming," he said. "It was a scream from the heart."
Sgt. Pennington said Jeremy apparently had given some thought to his actions because he left a suicide note with a classmate. Investigators would not disclose its contents.
Principal Jerry Bishop said Jeremy's class attendance had been sporadic. Mr. Bishop said he had met with the boy and his father to discuss the problem.
Police said that Jeremy had been in counseling with his father, but they did not know the specifics.
Sgt. Pennington said police did not know where the youth got the gun and had no clue why he would kill himself in a crowded classroom.
The classmates who witnessed the shooting were immediately ushered to a secluded room for counseling.
About 30 members of the school district's volunteer crisis team arrived to counsel students.
Classes continued throughout the day. Some students were allowed to leave early, but counselors encouraged them to stay at school and discuss their feelings
Lisa Moore, 16, said she knew Jeremy from the in-school suspension program.
"He and I would pass notes back and forth and he would talk about life and stuff," she said.
She said Jeremy wanted to discuss the boy she was dating and also mentioned that he was having trouble with one of his teachers. He signed all of his notes, "Write back." But on Monday he wrote, "Later days."
"I didn't know what to make of it," she said. "But I never thought this would happen."
However, Sean Forrester, 17, remembered Jeremy as friendly with no outward signs of turmoil.
"He never looked like he had anything wrong with him. He always made a joke over everything," Sean said.
Jeremy was the son of Joseph R. Delle of Richardson, with whom he lived, and Wanda Crane. The couple divorced in 1979, according to Dallas County court records.
Mr. Delle could not be reached for comment. Ms. Crane, through a spokesman, declined to comment.
Tuesday's shooting was the first known teen suicide in a Richardson school. It was the first by a Richardson student since 1988, when student suicides prompted the creation of the crisis intervention program in May that year.
Three Richardson students committed suicide during the first half of 1988. They included a sixth-grader and two sophomores at J. J. Pearce High School. One of the sophomores hanged himself from a tree behind Mohawk Elementary School during a weekend.
In 1985, a 17-year-old Arlington student shot himself in front of four fellow students in the drama classroom at Arlington High School.
Earlier, and outbreak of teen suicides in Plano, where eight youths killed themselves in 1983 and 1984, helped focus national attention on the plight of suicidal teen-agers.
Students and counselors agreed that the shock of Jeremy's public demise would have a lingering effect on the Richardson students, particularly the witnesses.
"They are going to go through a ton of sadness, anxiety and fear," said Sheryl Pender, a counselor with Willow Park Hospital in Plano and former director of the Suicide and Crisis Center in Dallas.
Staff writer Jeffrey Weiss contributed to this report