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Murder Charge In Indiana School Shoot

The 17-year-old suspect in the fatal shooting of a high school student in Gary, Indiana has been charged with murder.

A probable cause affidavit filed by police said that at least two witnesses to the incident saw Donald Ray Burt, Jr. shoot 16-year-old Neal Boyd, IV Friday morning in a parking lot outside Lew Wallace High School.

Police said the victim was an average-to above-average student with no disciplinary problems. They said he was targeted by Burt, who pulled out a gun and shot him in the head as other students stood by in a parking lot waiting for the start of classes.

Police Cpl. Danny Sorbello arrested Burt at his home near the high school. Sorbello said a relative answered the door, and Burt came out of a room and surrendered.

Burt did not have the gun when he was arrested, but Police Chief John Roby said the suspect admitted shooting Boyd and told authorities where he hid the gun. His alleged motive was still unclear, according to a city spokeswoman.

"It was a one-on-one incident," Roby said. "Basically what happened, the 17-year-old walked up to the 16-year-old and put a gun to his head and fired one shot."

The victim was found in the parking lot, next to a trash can near the walkway that leads to the main entrance to the school.

Police officer Jeff Tatum, who is stationed at the school full-time, ran to the scene after the shooting. He said Boyd was trying to get up after he was shot.

"He was saying, 'Help me, help me,'" Tatum said.

Another officer stationed at the school, Henry Davis, said the two boys were from the same neighborhood.

"I guess the fortunate thing about it is that there was only a small crowd around," Roby said. "Most of the kids were in school."

Gary School Superintendent Mary Guinn said Boyd was a quiet student, described by school staff as a good student with academic promise who was taking college preparatory classes.

"The school staff and administration are saddened by the fact we've lost one of our students," Guinn said. "We all began to search ourselves to see if there's anything we could have done, anything we missed. We don't believe there's anything we could have done differently to avoid this."

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Jason Joyce, 17, an 11th-grader at Lew Wallace and a friend of Boyd's, walked past the school in the afternoon still shocked by what had happened.

"It's hard to believe, because Neal wasn't a violent person," Joyce said. "He was a good guy. He was a talkative kid. He liked to play games, cards and basketball and stuff like that."

"I wish all this shooting would stop," the victim's father, Neal Boyd III, told reporters.

Police said there had been two or three shootings in and around Lew Wallace High School in recent years, including the fatal shooting of a pregnant student at a football game four years ago.

In September 1996, Roby increased patrols around all city high schools after drive-by gunfire erupted at Lew Wallace. A Wallace student was shot in the face in 1997 outside the Genesis Center auditorium during the high school's commencement exercises.

In 1999, a Wallace student was charged with bringing a .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun to school.

Gary, a city of more than 100,000 near Chicago, has a reputation for high crime and high poverty rates. It had the top per-capita murder rate in the United States in the early 1990s, although the number of murders has fallen by half in recent years.

The school is in a middle-class neighborhood known as Glen Park, about three blocks from the boarded-up storefronts that line the main street that cuts through the city.

Guinn said the school's more than 1,000 students spent Friday morning with a district-wide crisis team.

A talent show that had been scheduled at the school was canceled, and classes were dismissed at midday for spring break.

School shootings have increased in the United States in recent years, although most of the shootings have been in suburban school districts and not at urban schools.

Since a deadly attack at a school in Santee, California, March 5, there have been a number of threats to schools.

In Santee, a 15-year-old student allegedly killed two classmates, the worst incident of U.S. school violence since two teen-agers killed 15 people, including themselves, at Columbine High School in Colorado in April 1999. Last week, an 18-year-old allegedly opened fire at his school in El Cajon, California, injuring several people.

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