School copes with aftermath of child’s shooting
Western Garfield County Staff
On Thursday, Deb Cain, the counselor and summer school principal at Bea Underwood Elementary School, found herself in a sickeningly familiar situation.
For the second time in a little more than two years, gunfire had killed one of the students at her school.
Late in March 2003, the victim was 12-year-old Nick Jones, who died in an accidental shooting. This week, the victim was 9-year-old Taylor DeMarco, killed by a 14-year-old neighbor. And this time, the shooting apparently was not an accident.
Thursday, Cain greeted students as they filed through the front doors of the school where DeMarco would have been a fourth-grader in the fall.
She said the situation is different this time around. The incident two years ago involved close friends. One of Jones’ friends was cleaning a .22-caliber rifle when it went off, killing Jones. No charges were filed, and Cain urged students to reach out to the boy who killed his friend as much as they would reach out to Jones’ family.
This time, the 14-year-old shooter reportedly deliberately pointed a gun at DeMarco and pulled the trigger. This time, Cain said, there are more hard feelings, more blame.
“You don’t think of the gunman as a victim this time,” Cain said.
“He’s an unknown,” she added. “He never went to Parachute schools.”
The 14-year-old recently moved to Battlement Mesa from Rifle, Cain said.
He is expected to face charges of manslaughter and felony menacing.
Cain counseled her summer school students Thursday, just as she counseled students two years ago, but that was also different, she said.
“It’s a different dynamic,” Cain said. “Summer school is much more relaxed.”
Cain didn’t talk to the younger students who came to summer school Thursday morning unless they came to her or another teacher about the shooting.
She did talk to the older students who came in the afternoon about what happened to DeMarco and where it happened.
Some of DeMarco’s close friends were in summer school classes Thursday. Cain said she met with them, as well as with DeMarco’s teachers.
“There wasn’t anyone who was out of control with grief,” Cain said. “But we all had a hard time.”
Cain said DeMarco was well-liked by his peers, a very popular and giving boy with strawberry blond hair and freckles.
“He was the neatest little kid,” Cain said. “He was sensitive and kind. He would go out of his way to do anything for anyone.”
Cain said she spoke with Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario on Wednesday night about the possibility of having a gun-safety talk at the school when students return for regular classes. Cain said she still needed to talk to her principal, Cory Doss, who is out of town, but she thought it would be a good idea.
“We’ve had two gun deaths in two years,” Cain said. “I don’t know if it would help, but it wouldn’t hurt to have some gun safety information.”
There will be a memorial service for Taylor Allen DeMarco at 10 a.m. Saturday at Bea Underwood Elementary.
Contact Amanda Holt Miller at 625-3245 ext. 103
PARACHUTE ” The 14-year-old boy arrested on suspicion of shooting and killing his 9-year-old neighbor Taylor DeMarco on Wednesday will remain in custody until his next hearing, Aug. 24.
The 14-year-old had a hearing at District Court in Glenwood Springs Thursday morning. The judge decided to detain him at the Grand Mesa Youth Services Center in Grand Junction.
The .22-caliber semiautomatic pistol the boy allegedly used belonged to his mother. There are no charges expected against the boy’s parents.
The 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office will announce at the Aug. 24 hearing whether the boy will be charged as an adult.
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