Barry Dale Loukaitis

One day, Loukaitis told a classmate: “Some people don’t deserve to live; some people should just die or be killed.” When the girl later argued with him over answers on a worksheet, Loukaitis exploded in anger, telling her, “Do you think you deserve to live?” It was a question he had begun to ask many students before the shootings.

To put it simply, I was an asshole. I felt isolated from everyone, and didn’t fit in. Rather than see this for what it was and embrace individuality, I chose to be mean to people. I had a very puerile ‘they’re not worth befriending anyway’ attitude, which insulated me from the feeling of rejection. Suffice it to say that I adopted an identity which wasn’t really who I was. Deep down I knew this but I ignored it. I tried to project a fearsome image, but would never act accordingly. When I was challenged, I backed down. After this happened several times I felt I needed to prove myself, that I was what I claimed to be. The result was me murdering people.
—  Barry Loukaitis on the decision that landed him in prison for life.

“I Guess Reflex Just Took Over” - The Frontier Middle School Shooting

Fourteen year old Barry Dale Loukaitis was a severely troubled young man with a difficult home life. His father was largely absent for most of his childhood, and his mother often talked about suicide. Barry felt isolated and different from his classmates, and they treated him like an outcast. Whats more, Barry Loukaitis had entered puberty in the Nineties, a decade notorious for an unprecedented increase in gun violence in schools across America.

On February 2, 1996, Barry Loukaitis walked to Frontier Middle School in Moses Lake, Washington, dressed in a long duster coat, boots, and a cowboy hat. Concealed in the coat was a 30-30 rifle and two handguns, along with over seventy rounds of ammunition. Loukaitis calmly approached his algebra classroom, walked through the door, and opened fire; two boys who were sitting at the front of the classroom, Arnold Fritz and Manuel Vela, were killed instantly. Loukaitis then fatally shot the teacher, Leona Caires, in the chest. Another girl received gunshot wounds to her leg and abdomen, but she would pull through and live.

Loukaitis took the rest of the class hostage. Realising the police had surrounded the school, Loukaitis panicked and told the frightened children one of them would have to come along as a shield so he could safely escape the school. Two teachers who had run into the classroom when he fired the first shots both volunteered to be hostages. Loukaitis chose Jon Lane, a gym teacher, and told him to walk. Instead Lane grabbed the barrel of Loukaitis’ rifle and wrestled him to the ground. Lane shouted at the children to run, and they were evacuated by encroaching police. Lane kept Loukaitis pinned to the ground until they arrived and arrested him.

Loukaitis showed little emotion when discussing the shooting in his police interviews, and coolly remarked that “reflex took over” when he entered the algebra classroom with a fully loaded rifle. He was tried as an adult and pled insane to all the charges against him, citing “mood swings” as the cause of his actions. The prosecution claimed that Loukaitis planned the shooting in advance, and he was inspired by violent media such as Pearl Jam’s song “Jeremy” and Stephen King’s novel “Rage”

In September 1997 Barry Loukaitis was found guilty on three charges of murder, one charge of attempted murder, and sixteen counts of aggravated kidnapping. He received two life sentences plus an additional sentence of 206 years.

The Frontier Junior High School shooting was a school shooting that occurred on February 2, 1996 at Frontier Junior High School in Moses Lake, Washington, United States. The gunman, 14-year-old Barry Dale Loukaitis, killed his algebra teacher and two students, and held his classmates hostage for 10 minutes before a gym coach subdued Loukaitis. He is currently serving two life sentences and an additional 205 years in prison.


On February 2, 1996, the Frontier Middle School was devastated by a hostage-taking incident and shooting spree that occurred in an algebra class. It took the lives of three people (two students and a teacher) and resulted in the critical injury of one student. The person accused was a 14-year-old boy named Barry Dale Loukaitis, who was experiencing delusional and messianic thoughts before the shooting. Barry was dressed to look like a gunslinger from the Wild West in a black duster, and armed with a .30-30 caliber rifle, a .357 caliber pistol and a .25 caliber pistol that belonged to his father. The students were held hostage for 10 minutes before a gym coach tricked and outwitted the boy.

It was believed that, aside from a history of mental illness and dysfunctional issues in his family, Barry was influenced by Pearl Jam’s song and video “Jeremy.” The video shows a troubled youth committing suicide in front of his classmates and teacher. It was also reported that he said “This sure beats algebra, doesn’t it?” when he saw his classmates panic. This is a quote from a Stephen King novel, Rage, in which the protagonist kills two teachers and takes his algebra class hostage. Barry is currently serving two life sentences, with an additional 205 years in prison.


“This sure beats the hell out of algebra, doesn’t it?” - the words spoken by Barry Dale Loukaitis after he killed two students and his algebra teacher at Frontier Middle School on February 2, 1996.