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The BBC's Philippa Thomas
"The Michigan shooting will add to the pressure on the gun industry"
 real 28k

The BBC's Tom Carver reports
"This is the first time there has been a shooting by a child so young"
 real 28k

Ricky Rolland, father of the victim
"All she did was to tell the boy to leave her alone"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 1 March, 2000, 04:30 GMT
Schoolgirl, six, shot dead by classmate
Distraught parents gathered at the school
Distraught parents gathered at the school
There have been expressions of outrage and horror in the United States after a six-year-old boy shot dead a girl of the same age in front of her teacher and 22 other school pupils.

The girl was rushed from the Michigan school, to the nearby Hurley Medical Center in Flint, 65 miles (100km) northwest of Detroit.

The principal told teachers to shut their doors and lock them. I was scared, my heart was pounding.

Corey Sutton, nine
She died at the hospital shortly after the incident on Tuesday morning.

The boy had fired a single bullet from the .32 calibre weapon which struck the victim, Kayla Rolland, in the neck. He then ran into a bathroom and dropped the gun into a rubbish bin.

It was not immediately clear if the shooting was accidental or intentional, Police Chief Eric King said.

Some reports suggest the boy had been showing off; others that the two children had been arguing.

Kayla Rolland
The victim: Kayla Rolland
A classmate told the Associated Press that she heard the boy tell Kayla Rolland that he "didn't like her", because Kayla had shouted at him.

But school Superintendent Ira A Rutherford told reporters at the police station that the girl's version of events was inaccurate.

A pupil in another class, nine-year-old Corey Sutton, told how he heard a bang, but thought it was a desk falling over.

He added: "The principal came over the PA system and told teachers to shut their doors and lock them. I was scared, my heart was pounding."

'Fully armed society'

After the shooting, the rest of Buell Elementary School, in Mount Morris Township, was evacuated to a local church hall, where distraught parents were waiting to comfort their children.

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  • There have been many other school shootings in the US - most notably the Columbine massacre last year - but this is the first attack by a child so young.

    Prosecutors have not said how they think the boy got hold of the gun, which they say had been reported stolen in December.

    Any adult found to have been grossly negligent in storing the gun could be charged with involuntary manslaughter, which is punishable by up to 15 years in prison in Michigan.

    Genesee County Prosecutor Arthur Busch said he had been told that the boy had disciplinary problems, but had not exhibited behaviour indicating he might kill someone.

    Asked if the 6-year old had expressed remorse, Mr Busch said: "As much as a 6-year old can. I think he realised that he had done something naughty, but I'm not sure that he understood the enormity or gravity of what had occurred".

    He said the boy, who has been taken into custody, was too young to be held criminally responsible.

    Appeal for safety locks

    National Education Association President Bob Chase blamed the girl's death on "unrestricted access to guns".

    "It is truly shameful that the richest nation in the world cannot muster the courage to protect our children from guns" he said.

    When will we protect children, not guns?

    Bob Chase
    President Clinton, speaking at a fund-raising lunch in Florida, challenged presidential candidates to make gun-control an issue in the forthcoming election.

    "If we have the technology today to put in these child safety locks why don't we do it?" he said.

    In April 1999, two teenagers went on the rampage at the Columbine High School in Denver, Colorado, killing 12 of their fellow students and a teacher before taking their own lives.

    One month later, a student opened fire at Heritage High School near Conyers, Georgia, injuring six schoolmates before being taken into custody.

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    16 Sep 99 |  Americas
    Analysis: Recent gun legislation
    21 Apr 99 |  Americas
    When children kill
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