‘Now what have you got to say to me?’
Date: October 10, 2007
School: SuccessTech Academy, Cleveland, OH
Asa Coon was a bright, well-behaved boy living in horrendous circumstances - at home, at school, and in his neighborhood. Despite growing up amid violence, there are reports that Asa was often polite and ignored his peers’ harassment. Unfortunately, according to his Uncle, Coon’s intelligence made him a target of his peers.
Coon came from a broken home with a long history of significant dysfunction. his father lived in Florida; it is not know when he left the family. At age 4, Coon was the subject of a juvenile court neglect case. The home was described as having a yard littered with dog feces and debris and Coon often went to school with his face dirty, his clothes shabby, and his hair unkempt. In 2000, the Department of Children and Family Services investigated the home because Coon had scratches on his forehead and burns on his arms. It was difficult to asses the severity of the burns as they were covered with flea bites. It was alleged that Coon’s brother, Stephen, had burned him, but Coon would not tell what happened.
When Coon was twelve, he was charged with domestic violence for aggression towards his mother. Coon had several placements out of the home as his behavior deteriorated. He was sent to a shelter pending a placement in a detention center. While in the shelter he attempted suicide. After being placed in the detention facility he was sent to a psychiatric hospital.
A woman who volunteered at the school commented on Coon’s unkempt appearance: ‘Shabby shoes and raggedy coat - didn’t brush his hair, take a washcloth across his face, hair sticking up all over the place.’ She also said, ‘That child was tormented from all his classmates every single day.’ A friend of Coon’s said, ‘I ain’t justifying nothing… I ain’t saying he did the right thing, but I am saying he got pushed for a long time and asked people for help, help, help, help, but nobody helped.’
Adapted from ‘School Shooters’ by Peter Langman