Sunday, area churches held prayer services for the six students shot last Thursday. Authorities will decide this week whether to try 15-year-old suspect Thomas "T.J." Solomon as an adult.
Monday morning, dozens of deputies and state troopers guarded the school and helped direct traffic as the students arrived in buses and cars under a bright morning sun. But Principal Lowell Biddy said no extra security was planned inside, except for a few parents who had volunteered to be in the hallways.
Not many students stayed away, although attendance figures were not expected until later in the day. Some students hugged in the parking lot before they went inside.
"I expect that a lot of students will come just to be consoled by their fellow classmates," Biddy said.
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The students were given extra time in homeroom Monday morning to receive and sign their yearbooks. Final exams, scheduled for this week, are now optional for Heritage students.
The alleged gunman remained in a youth detention center. Fellow students said Solomon was despondent over a recent breakup with his girlfriend.
Only one of the six victims remained hospitalized Monday. Stephanie Laster, 15, still has a bullet lodged in her abdomen but was in good condition at Hughes Spalding Children's Hospital in Atlanta.
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"He was quite hysterical," he said. "I was asking him if he was OK. And then I asked the big questions. I asked if those are blanks, and he said no. Then I asked if he had acted alone, and he said yes. And then he started sobbing, and he said, 'Mr. Biddy, I don't know why I did this. I just don't know why I did this'."
The New York Times reported Saturday that Solomon had been taking Ritalin, a drug commonly prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
|Thomas Solomon Jr. (yearbook phot)|
If Solomon really sought to leave a trail of bodies behind, he could have stolen more powerful weapons, according to Sheriff Jeff Wigington.
"There was a lot more firepower available to him," Wigington said.
As it turned out, Solomon chose only a .357 Magnum revolver and a sawed-off rifle, which he hid in the legs of his baggy jeans.