Jamie-Andrea Yanak  /  AP
A student holds her arms up as she passes through a newly installed metal detector at Success Tech Academy in Cleveland on Tuesday.
updated 10/16/2007 2:56:29 PM ET 2007-10-16T18:56:29

Students and faculty were greeted with supportive cheers and applause Tuesday morning as they returned to a high school that had been closed since a classmate shot four people then killed himself last week.

Outside the entrance of SuccessTech Academy, community leaders and civic organizations formed a human pathway as students and teachers entered the school. Inside, additional security measures including armed security guards and a new metal detector were in effect.

"I was scared that day, but I feel that was just one person out of everyone who goes here," said senior Jasmine Lawrence, 17, as she arrived.

The student gunman, Asa Coon, opened fire last Wednesday. The shooting victims — two students and two teachers — survived.

Coon was holding two revolvers and wearing an angry look when he burst into class, wounded teacher Michael Grassie recalled. "Now what have you got to say to me?" the teenager asked him. Coon waived off a student and shot Grassie, the teacher said.

Teacher saw 'real hatred'
"I remember the expression on Asa's face," Grassie said Monday. "Anger, total anger. Real hatred. It's something I haven't seen on a 14-year-old's face before."

Grassie, 42, sat in a wheelchair at a hospital before being discharged and recounted the rampage. He was shot in the abdomen by Coon, who also wounded another teacher and two students at the school, which stresses technology and entrepreneurship for high-achieving students.

Grassie said Coon was doing poorly in his world history class and risked failing. "I know that made him really mad," he said.

He said he had called Coon's home because Coon was talking in class, but the teacher was unable to reach the boy's mother. The father lives out-of-state, police said.

The teacher said Coon had tried to pick a fight with him a week before the shooting. "He tried to goad me," said Grassie, who had no explanation for why Coon might try to pick a fight.

When Coon entered his classroom, Grassie was working with another student on homework and other assignments. Coon looked at the other student and said, "You, you're cool, man," as if to assure him he wasn't at risk.

'Warning signs were there'
Grassie said Coon's behavior problems, which he said had led to plans by the school administration to transfer Coon to another school, should have been a sign of possible trouble.

"All the warning signs were there," he said. "Nobody picked up on them."

Grassie criticized the lack of security at the school _ a lone guard and an occasional metal detector _ and said a permanent metal detector would have identified anyone entering school with a weapon. He said teachers had pressed for years to get a guard assigned to patrol the upper floors of the converted office building that houses the school's classrooms.

School officials have repeatedly said they were trying to determine how Coon entered the building and said tapes from 26 cameras were checked to determine what happened.

School officials said last week the 50,000-student district, with 110 buildings, would install metal detectors in each school and make sure a guard is on duty in every building.

Parents and students said they felt safe as classes resumed Tuesday.

John Thrasher, a 16-year-old junior, said he felt calm as he approached the school.

"I think it's going to be much safer than the last time," he said. "We didn't have metal detectors. Now we have that. I'm going to be more comfortable."

Sandra Ellington-Harmon, who has two students in the school, said she is satisfied with the increased security.

"It's unfortunate what happened, and you can't foresee the future or what an individual will do," she said.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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