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Thursday, April 29, 1999 Published at 15:00 GMT 16:00 UK

World: Americas

Student killed in 'copycat' shooting

One high school student has been killed and another seriously injured in a shooting at a school in Alberta, Canada.

The BBC's Ed Campbell: It appears to have been a copycat of the US attack
Reports said a 14-year-old youth wearing a blue trenchcoat marched into the school wielding a sawn-off .22 calibre rifle.

Some of the students immediately lay down on the floor and others stacked desks one on top of the other to create a protective barricade.

The suspect reportedly held the shotgun to a teacher's head before randomly shooting his two victims.

[ image:  ]
He was subsequently disarmed by a teacher and taken into custody by a police officer who works at the school.

A third student said he was threatened by the shooter but was let go. "I met him downstairs," said Colby Cannady. "He pointed the gun at me from about one foot away, at my head, and then at my stomach and said, 'Get out of here.'.''

The incident occurred at lunchtime at WR Myers High School in Taber, a quiet 7,200-strong rural community, 175km southeast of Calgary.

Canadian reporter Paul Bzeta: A 14-year-old boy brandished a rifle
The suspect is said to be a troubled student who had recently dropped out of the school and was being taught at home.

His class-mates said he was unpopular and described him as "a real loser type".

The suspect's identity is protected under Canadian law. The two victims were said to be two years above the suspect at the school which has 400 students.

Gun laws

Eyewitness: At first I didn't think it was for real
At least 15 grief counsellors are on hand to help students at the school where classes have been cancelled for the rest of the week.

The Canadian Press news agency said it was the country's first fatal high school shooting in 20 years.

Canada prides itself on having stringent gun control laws and a murder rate which is a fraction of that in the United States.

However, Taber is a farming community, and many people would be likely to own guns for hunting.

[ image: Students leave the school in shock]
Students leave the school in shock
Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien expressed his sadness at the shootings and Alberta's provincial education minister, Gary Marr, wept as he described the day as his worst as education minister.

Witnesses said the school was ringed in yellow crime-scene tape and no one was allowed in or out of the building.

US massacre

The shooting comes a week after two teenage boys in the US state of Colorado killed 12 classmates and a teacher before turning their guns on themselves.

The Canadian shooting appears to have been a copycat of the US incident, in which the killers also wore trenchcoats and were alienated from their classmates.

The massacre at Columbine High School in the town of Littleton was one of the bloodiest school shootings in the US. Twenty other people were injured, nine of whom were reported to be still in hospital on Wednesday.

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