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Sunday, April 26, 1998 Published at 04:15 GMT 05:15 UK

World: Americas

Teenager charged with school dance shooting
image: [ Andrew Wurst was seen laughing as he was driven away ]
Andrew Wurst was seen laughing as he was driven away

'We thought it was a balloon popping'- an eyewitness account
A 14-year-old boy has been charged with killing a teacher and wounding two pupils after a shooting at a school graduation dance in Pennsylvania.

Police said Andrew Wurst, a pupil of Parker Middle School, shot teacher John Gillette, 48, in the head on a patio outside a banquet hall.

[ image: The dead teacher was married with three children]
The dead teacher was married with three children
The teenager is then said to have walked inside and fired several more shots with the handgun before leaving the building through a rear exit.

He was charged as an adult with criminal homicide, three counts each of aggravated assault and reckless endangerment, as well as drug and gun charges.

School officials said they did not know what motivated the shooting. Students described Wurst as a loner.

Celebration turned to carnage

Pupils were dancing to "My Heart Will Go On" from the film Titanic at the Friday night dance when the first of several shots rang out at Nick's Place, a banquet hall near Edinboro, about 100 miles (160 km) north of Pittsburgh.

[ image: Students comfort each other outside the venue]
Students comfort each other outside the venue
Adam Sarren, 15, said the noises sounded like a cap gun. "It was pretty horrible. It was like a nightmare," he said. "We were all scared and crying and praying."

Two 14-year-old boys were wounded by gunfire. One was grazed across the abdomen and the other shot in the foot. Both were treated at a hospital and released.

A female teacher was grazed by a bullet but did not need medical treatment.

Captured at gunpoint

The teenager was caught in a field behind the hall just after the shooting by the owner of the banquet hall, who was carrying a shotgun.

Police said the boy had a handgun and a small amount of marijuana in his possession.

[ image: Wurst's school yearbook picture]
Wurst's school yearbook picture
On Saturday, hundreds of parents, students and teachers gathered at the school to meet with counsellors.

The attack was the latest in a series of shootings in US schools.

In the past six months, two children have been charged after five students were shot and killed at a middle school in Jonesboro, Arkansas and three students were killed in a shooting at a high school in West Paducah, Kentucky.

Two students were killed and seven wounded at a high school shooting in Pearl, Mississippi.

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