The Boy Who Loved Bombs

As the U.S. witnesses the latest school shooting, can anything be learned--or done?

Roses, carnations and lilies droop from the chain-link fence outside Thurston High School, and a makeshift plywood cross juts from the ground nearby. Beneath it, a hand-printed sign reads WILL WE EVER LEARN? But as the timber town of Springfield, Ore. (pop. 51,000), grieved last week, the lessons were far from obvious.

Add Springfield to the atlas of American juvenile violence. The map is dotted with names now searingly familiar: Pearl, Miss., where a 16-year-old killed his mother and fatally shot two classmates with a rifle in October 1997; West Paducah, Ky., where a 14-year-old killed three girls with a .22...

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