On November 19, 1997, Jamie Rouse, a Tennessee high
school senior, was found guilty of two counts of murder and two counts
of attempted murder in the 1995 rampage at Richland High School.
over poor grades Jamie Rouse, 17, walked into school with a rifle and
shot teachers Carolyn Foster and Carol Yancey and 14-year-old student
Diane Collins who accidentally got in the way. Ms. Foster and Miss
Collins died. Ms. Yancey was wounded.
Rouse's lawyers claimed he was a
paranoid schizophrenic and was not in control of his actions. But
prosecution witnesses disputed that. In closing arguments, defense
attorney Dan Runde said Rouse was hearing voices and thought he was on a
mission from God when he opened fire.
Steven Abbott -- Rouse's friend -- was convicted
August 1 of criminal responsibility in the slayings and got 40 years in
prison. Abbott drove Rouse to school on the day of the rampage and knew
Rouse was carrying a rifle and 400 rounds of ammunition. Abbott
testified that he didn't believe Rouse when he said he planned to shoot
Rouse's 16-year-old brother, Jeremy, was convicted in 1996 of
solicitation to commit murder after trying to persuade classmates to
"finish the job" his brother started.
Richland High School shooting was a school shooting that occurred on
November 15, 1995,
in Lynnville, Tennessee, a small town located in Giles County.
17-year-old Jamie Rouse, a student at the school, killed one teacher and
one student, and seriously wounded another teacher.
Rouse used a .22-calibre Remington Viper semi-automatic
rifle, which he hid behind bushes before driving to pick up his
friend Stephen Abbott. Abbot drove Jamie the rest of the way to
Richland High School. Abbott parked the car outside the school,
and Rouse entered through the north entrance hallway. Inside the
hallway he confronted teachers Carolyn Yancey and Carolyn Foster.
He then shot both teachers in the head. He then aimed
his rifle at a football coach, however he missed and fatally shot
freshman Diane Collins in the throat. He was then wrestled by the coach
and escorted to the administration office. Carolyn Foster was killed by
a gunshot wound to the head, while Carolyn Yancey survived in serious
Rouse was convicted as an adult of one count of first-degree
murder, one count of second-degree murder, and one count of first-degree
attempted murder. He was sentenced to life in prison without the
possibility of parole.
Stephen Abbott was also charged with criminal
responsibility and sentenced to 40 years in prison for driving Rouse to
school with ammunition and knowing his intentions to shoot instructors
at his school.
The Mind Of A School Shooter
Student Serving Life Sentence For Killing Two
Teachers, One Friend
By Rebecca Leung - CBSNews.com
April 14, 2004
It happened on Nov. 15, 1995, in Lynville, Tenn. –
nearly four years before the massacre at Columbine High School.
Science teacher Ralph Johnson was in his classroom at
Richland High School when a student walked through the school’s north
entrance, armed with a .22 caliber, semiautomatic rifle. He began
shooting at the first teachers he saw.
The student was Jamie Rouse, then 17. Now 25, and in
prison, Rouse sat down with Correspondent Maureen Maher to give a rare
glimpse into the mind of a school shooter.
“I didn’t feel anything. I was empty,” says Rouse.
The first shots hit Carol Yancey, 50, who taught math
and science, and Carolyn Foster, 58, a teacher at the school for 15
His third victim, Diane Collins, was a 14-year-old
“When you're in that state of mind where you're gonna
kill someone, nothing matters,” says Rouse. “I wasn't expecting to, you
know, come back alive.”
The killing stopped only after Rouse was wrestled to
the ground. Two of the victims -- Collins and Foster -- died. But Yancey
Rouse was convicted and sentenced to life in prison,
without parole, for the shootings. His mother, Cheryl Rouse, was stunned.
“This can’t be my son that did this. Why didn’t I know? Why couldn’t I
see how much pain he was in,” she says. “He was the good kid. He was the
one that always did what he was told. You could depend on him.”
She says that the fact that her son was dressed all
in black, listened to loud music and loved violent movies didn’t set off
any alarms at the time. “To me, that was just typical teenager. You
know,” says Cheryl Rouse. “One minute they're mad, and the next minute,
But Jamie was troubled. In high school, he started
drinking and doing drugs, and he was listening to death metal music –
songs about killing and dying.
The film, “Natural Born Killers,” also made a big
impression on him. “It made killing look easy and fun,” says Rouse. “I
mean, it fascinated me.”
He now says the music and violent images were filling
an emptiness inside – and their message made him feel powerful. “I guess
for so long I’d felt helpless and weak, and with violence, you know, you
have control,” says Rouse “I’m not saying that it’s music made me did
what I did, because ultimately, it was my choice. But it helped shape
who I was.”
At home, there was yelling and
fighting. “The yelling was because of me,” says Rouse’s father, Elison,
a truck driver who now admits he was part of the problem in his son’s
“To this day, I still believe if I’d
been home that day, I’d been the one that died and – and the teachers
wouldn’t have … I believed he’d kill me … I was the cause of most of his
problems, I felt like.”
Elison was on the road for most of
Jamie’s childhood, and at the time, using drugs and drinking heavily.
When he was home, Rouse says, Elison was often angry.
“One of the earliest memories I have
was sitting on my mother’s lap. And she was crying. And I can remember
my dad punching holes in the door and walls because he was drunk,” says
Rouse. “I knew that he was capable of actual violence.”
Rouse says he learned how not to cry
because he was afraid of his father. “I knew what happened if I cried
around my dad. So I just stuffed it in. I didn’t expose that,” says
“It had a big impact. You don’t know
how to deal with problems when they do happen. And it just snowballs
until eventually something gives."
As time went on, Rouse’s reactions
became more destructive – and more dangerous. But no one took it
seriously, not even when he pulled a gun on his brother. His father
merely took his gun away for a couple of months.
“Right there ,that sent the signal
that, you know, that I wasn't gonna get help from him. Because to me
that's a pretty big deal when a sibling pulls a gun on another one,”
says Rouse. “They didn’t think that anything, I guess, was severely
Cheryl Rouse says that her son kept
all of his emotions inside: “If he let off steam, it wasn’t around us.
When he was around us, he was just a perfect teenager.”
But Rouse says he was desperately
unhappy – and it started when he was a child, bullied by classmates for
being small and too quiet. Things got worse in high school, where he was
ostracized by kids who thought he worshipped the devil.
“People were scared of me. I was a
normal kid. And I didn't want people to be scared of me. I wanted to be
just, like, you know, everyone else,” says Rouse, who says his life in
1995 felt out of control. “I was under a lot of stress.”
“I guess I blamed school ... and the
teachers," adds Rouse. "And I was so filled with, you know, hate and
anger and this evil that, you know, I guess in a way I felt that, you
know, they should be punished, too.”
He says he went to school that
Wednesday morning, prepared to hunt down teachers. But someone else got
in the way – his best friend’s sister.
Diane Collins was accidentally shot
when Rouse says he missed the teacher he was aiming for: “Of all the
people I could have shot. I keep asking myself, ‘Why her?’”
It's too late for Rouse, but it may
not be too late for others. A classroom of 14-year-old kids are taking a
field trip to the medium security prison in Clifton, Tenn., for a lesson
they’ll never forget.
Here, they see the harsh reality of
life behind bars – and get to hear from a school shooter.
“When I was 17 years old, I walked
into Richland High School and shot two teachers and a student,” says
Rouse, who has been trying to reach kids who may be as unhappy and
desperate as he once was. “I used violence as a way out. And because of
that, I’m in prison for the rest of my life and two people are dead.
What I did didn’t have to happen.”
Sitting alongside Rouse is fellow
inmate, Jacob Davis, 24. In 1998, Davis was a senior at Lincoln County
High School in Fayetteville, Tenn. He was a popular honor student and
had a scholarship to college. Just days before graduation, he shot and
killed his girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend in a jealous rage.
Looking back, Davis says he was
secretly troubled as a kid, even though he seemed normal to others:
“Most of the people I would say that knew me refused to believe it. It
just didn’t make sense.”
“There is no mold. These were people
who looked more mainstream than you would think,” says Marisa Reddy, a
research psychologist with the United States Secret Service, who has
interviewed a number of school shooters. “The fact of the matter is, it
would be a lot easier for all of us if there were a profile. But there
After the massacre at Columbine, the
Secret Service joined forces with the Department of Education to find
out how to prevent school shootings. They focused on 37 incidents dating
back to 1974 – including attacks by Jamie Rouse and Jacob Davis
How do you identify, stop and then
help a child who is a potential killer? “You can’t tell by looking at a
child whether he or she may engage in a school shooting. But you can
look at what they’re doing and what they’re saying,” says Reddy.
There may not be a common profile –
but Reddy and her colleagues did find common behaviors. “They had done
something to seriously concern at least one adult in their life,” says
Reddy. “And actually the majority had concerned at least three adults.
These were kids on someone’s radar screen.”
“The biggest problem I had was I
didn’t think anyone could help me,” says Rouse. “And so that stopped me
from actually reaching out.”
Researchers discovered most of the
shooters were overwhelmed by feelings of depression, and in more than
two-thirds of all these cases, the attackers felt bullied or persecuted.
“Not every child who's bullied in
school is at risk for doing something violent or harmful, let alone
engaging in a school shooting,” says Reddy. “But we heard from some of
these kids of situations that went on for years at a time. That I would
almost characterize as torment.”
Many of the shooters were also so
unhappy that they had actually considered or attempted suicide.
“I’d always been dealing with
depression, but when this hit, it became so severe that I really didn’t
want to live anymore,” says Davis.
But one of the biggest surprises may
be that these shooters rarely just snap. “These attacks were typically
thought out in advance. They were typically planned in advance,” says
Reddy. “And, before most of them, other kids knew these attacks were
going to occur.”
Rouse told five friends, and one of
them even drove him to school on the morning of the attack. “He saw that
I had the gun,” recalls Rouse. “I remember him making some, a comment
like, ‘So, you’re really going to do it, aren’t you?’ I guess I wanted
someone to stop me.”
“We know that some people, if they’ve
threatened and there’s no response, they may take that as permission to
move forward with a plan,” says Reddy.
In the five years since Columbine,
teachers and law enforcement have learned to be more vigilant and take
every threat seriously. In just the past three months, at least four
attacks on schools have been prevented.
“All of you guys, remember me,” Davis
tells the kids on their fieldtrip to the prison. “You know, tell
somebody. Go tell somebody.”
These are important lessons that Davis
says he wish he had known sooner: “My life’s pretty much over with. I’ve
got a life sentence, and there’s a young man that’s dead.”
“It wasn’t like the movies, you know,
where you shoot someone, and then, you know, go about your life. And you
know, I hurt real people,” adds Rouse. “It’s the most horrible feeling
you can have.”
Jamie Rouse, 17.
Rouse's shooting spree killed teacher Carolyn Foster,
and student Diane Collins.
Stephen Abbott and Jamie Rouse