frontier middle school


Frontier High School Shooting 
Barry Loukaitis 

“This sure beats the hell out of algebra, doesn’t it?”, was what 14 year old Barry Loukaitis said when he kept a class hostage at gunpoint. On February the 2nd 1996, Loukaitis entered Frontier Middle School. in Washington, armed with multiple guns and opened fire, two students and a teacher were killed.

In September 1997, Barry Loukaitis was charged as an adult and sentenced to life in prison.

Barry Loukaitis claimed that he only intended to kill one student and the rest were accidental, but prosecutors believed it was a well planned attack. It’s believed that Barry was influenced by Pearl Jam’s song Jeremy, a music video which displays a troubled teenager shoots up a school. Barry was also inspired by Natural Born Killers, Basketball Diaries and Stephan King’s book Rage, also depicts a school shooter who killed teachers and holds an algebra class hostage

Years before the shooting, Barry Loukaitis’s family became dysfunction. After his parents got divorced his mother would frequently talk about suicide, even saying that Barry would also need to kill himself, but the young man talked his mum out of it. Loukaitis was also suffering from hyperactivity and clinical depression, taking ritalin. 


Frontier Middle School shooting; February 2, 1996:
Loukaitis was widely believed to be frequently bullied in school, which impelled him to cause the murderous school rampage.Those who knew him claim that he complained of being beaten by other students, being sexually harassed, having his head repeatedly stuffed into toilets, and being held down while another student urinated on him.He was also taking ritalin at the time of the shooting.
On February 2, 1996, Loukaitis dressed as a wild west-style gunslinger and used a duster to conceal a hunting rifle and two handguns. He was carrying approximately 80 rounds of ammunition.
Loukaitis could be re-sentenced due to a US Supreme Court decision, in which people convicted of a murder they committed under 16 years of age can be paroled in 25 years. Loukaitis could be released as early as 2021.

Frontier Middle School shooting

The Frontier Middle School shooting was a school shooting that occurred on February 2, 1996 at Frontier Middle 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 ten minutes before a gym coach subdued Loukaitis. 

Shooting: On the day of the shooting, Loukaitis was dressed as a Wild West-style gunslinger and was wearing a black duster. He was armed with a .30-30 caliber hunting rifle and two handguns that belonged to his father, and was carrying approximately 78 rounds of ammunition. 

Loukaitis walked from his house to his school, where he had entered his algebra classroom during fifth period. He opened fire at students, killing two, Arnold Fritz and Manuel Vela, Jr., both fourteen. Another student, 13-year-old Natalie Hintz, sustained critical gunshot wounds to the right arm and abdomen, and was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. 

Loukaitis then fatally shot his algebra teacher Leona Caires in the chest. As his classmates began to panic, Loukaitis reportedly said, “This sure beats the hell out of algebra, doesn’t it?”, which is often erroneously reported as a quote from the Stephen King novel Rage. Teacher and coach Jon Lane entered the classroom upon hearing the gunshots to find Loukaitis holding his classmates hostage. He planned to use one hostage so he could safely exit the school. Lane volunteered as the hostage, and Loukaitis kept him at gunpoint with his rifle. Lane then grabbed the weapon from Loukaitis and wrestled him to the ground, later assisting in the evacuation of students. 

Lane kept Loukaitis subdued until police arrived at the scene. 

Trial: In June 1996, the Spokane Court of Appeals were to come to a decision whether 15-year-old Barry Loukaitis should be tried as an adult or juvenile. On July 2, three members of the Spokane Court of Appeals convinced Judge Evan Sperline to allow court-appointed psychiatrist Joan Petrich to present a testimony based on Loukaitis mental health. The trial was later moved to Seattle, Washington due to media publicity. Loukaitis had pleaded insanity on all charges against him, and claimed that “mood swings” were the cause of his violent actions. During his trial, Joan Petrich testified that Loukaitis had been experiencing delusional and messianic thoughts before the shooting. She had stated, “He felt like he was God and would laugh to himself. He felt he was superior to other people, and then those feelings were later replaced by hate, disdain, and not measuring up.”

Prosecutors Donna Wise and John Knodell argued that Loukaitis had carefully planned the shooting, getting ideas from the Pearl Jam song Jeremy. The music video from Jeremy shows a troubled youth committing suicide in front of his teacher and classmates, although it was largely believed that “Jeremy” had opened fire on the class. This has been widely misunderstood because MTV had strong anti violence imagery rules. The original video showed the child putting the gun into his mouth, however the only images allowed to air were those of the children covered in his blood. Prosecution also said that he had gotten ideas from the Stephen King novel Rage and the films Natural Born Killers and The Basketball Diaries. Loukaitis has also stated that he tried to model his life after the novel Rage’s protagonist Charlie Decker, who kills two teachers and takes his algebra class hostage.

On September 24, 1997, Loukaitis was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder, one count of second-degree murder, one count of first-degree attempted murder, and 16 counts of aggravated kidnapping. He was sentenced to serve two life sentences and an additional 205 years without the possibility of parole. He is currently imprisoned at the Clallam Bay Corrections Center in Washington State. The Washington State Court of Appeals denied Loukaitis’s request for a new trial in 1999. 

Loukaitis could be re-sentenced due to a US Supreme Court decision, in which people convicted of a murder they committed under 16 years of age can be paroled in 25 years. Loukaitis could be released as early as 2021. 

Perpetrator and motives: In the year prior to the shooting, the Loukaitis family was facing various dysfunctional issues. Loukaitis’ parents separated in 1995, after his mother discovered her husband was having an affair. She filed for divorce against her husband in January 1996. His mother, Jo Ann Phillips, was a domineering woman who became increasingly distant and began speaking of suicide. She would frequently imply that her son Barry would also have to kill himself, and that the date of the double-suicide would be on Valentine’s Day of 1996. Barry talked his mother out of doing so, by having her down her feelings. 

Loukaitis suffered from hyperactivity, and was talking Ritalin at the time of the shooting. He also suffered from clinical depression, a mental illness present in the last three generations of the Loukaitis family, and last four generations of the Phillips family. 

Loukaitis claimed that he only intended on killing Manuel Vela, and that the other deaths were accidental.