Often Ridiculed, the Suspect Said, ‘I’ll Show You One Day’
For the last month, Andy Williams, the pale, slight Santana High School freshman, repeatedly told friends he was going to take one of his father’s guns to school and shoot people. Friends all said they thought he was joking.
The threats were frequently made to Williams’ friends who hung out at the Woodglen Vista Skate Park. “You guys just watch, I’ll do it,” he said.
“Everybody would just laugh and tell him to shut up,” said Dustin Hopkins, a friend. “Then Andy said, ‘OK, I’ll show you one day. It’ll happen.’ ”
“I didn’t take it seriously at all. None of us did. I never thought he was like that.”
The park was a big hangout. The youngsters from the neighborhood and from as far away as El Cajon came to the park to skate, and more. Williams’ crowd drank alcohol when they could find it--beer, tequila, whatever they could steal or get somebody to buy. They smoked cigarettes and marijuana, according to Jessie “Red” Cunard, 18, a former Santana High student who also hung out at the park.
On a recent night, police patrolling the park found Williams in possession of several 40-ounce bottles of beer. He later told an adult acquaintance, Junior Sanchez, “They just told me to go home.”
Friends and acquaintances give this account of what happened between then and Monday morning:
* Saturday night, Feb. 17: A bunch of youngsters at the skate park pay Williams'12-year-old girlfriend to go down to Albertson’s market and steal a fifth of tequila. She does it and everybody drinks. The girl and Williams go off by themselves. Some time later, Josh Stevens, Williams’ best friend, finds the girl passed out near a creek in the park. Stevens attempts to carry her home.
The girl’s mother and a friend find Stevens and the girl and notice that her belt is partly undone. Among the things they suspect is some misconduct by Williams.
* Sunday, Feb. 18: Word spreads about Williams and his girlfriend, although by then her mother thinks there was no foul play. She just didn’t buckle up very well, the mother says.
That week, Williams breaks up with the girl. “I heard it was a bad breakup,” says Samantha Davis, 17, a senior at Santana High.
* Saturday, Feb. 24: At the skate park, Williams is accused of earlier trying to sexually molest the girlfriend. One of the boys beats Williams. The beating leaves Williams with “a fat eye,” according to friends.
* Saturday, March 3: Williams and another boy sleep over at Stevens’ house. Williams repeats the threats, then says he is joking. The three boys stay up until 3 a.m., listening to music and playing guitar.
* Sunday morning: Chris Reynolds, Stevens’ mother’s boyfriend, hears about Williams’ threats and confronts him. Reynolds said he questioned the teenager’s seriousness. Williams repeats that he was kidding. Reynolds says, “You better be. Or I’ll have [you] arrested before you even get to the school.”
* Sunday, midday: Reynolds tries to call Williams’ father to tell him about the threats. There is no answer. He tries again later, he said, but the line is busy.
* Sunday, 4 p.m.: A bunch of youngsters go to a place they call the Summit, near the skate park, to ride their bikes through the impromptu jumps they build or find.
Katie Hutter, 12, a student at Cahon Park Junior High, is one of the bike riders. Williams starts with his threats again, she said. “ ‘Tomorrow, I’m going to have a bunch of guns and I’m going to shoot a bunch of people. I’m going to shoot people down and you’re going to watch,’ he said. We were just making fun of him, just mocking him,” Hutter said.
* Sunday night: Williams repeats the threats to Neil O’Grady, a friend. “I thought he was just messing around. He told me he was going to take a gun to school and shoot people. He told me to stay home.”
* Monday, 7:30 a.m.: Williams calls Stevens’ house, as he does most mornings, to see if he is ready to go to school. He is still asleep. Chris Reynolds tells Williams that Stevens isn’t going to school with him.
* Monday, 8 a.m.: Williams goes to Santana Village Mall, across Magnolia Avenue from the high school. This is a morning ritual. As many as 30 students gather daily at the Jack in the Box. The ones who want to be taken for grown-ups drink coffee. Everybody else drinks Cokes, one student says.
Williams’ friends take his threats from the weekend seriously enough to search him for weapons. They pat down his customary blue Navy Seals sweatshirt and pants. They find nothing. They neglect to look inside his yellow backpack.
* Shortly after 9 a.m.: The group drifts off to school. They go not en masse, but in trickles.
* 9:20 a.m.: Williams walks into the Santana High School quad, a campus gathering spot for late-start students and others on break.
John Schardt is on the telephone with his mother. She is going to bring his lunch. Sophomore Heather Noble walks down the hall, just past the bathroom. Wes Clonts heads to second-period biology. Dustin Hopkins, a friend of Williams, enters the quad with their mutual friend, Trevor Edwards.
The first shots are muffled, slight pops, like firecrackers, several students say. At first nobody knows what they are, but as people start falling, as a food cart is shot up, as blood flows onto the ground, it is apparent.
Hopkins looks as his friend Edwards is shot. Then he looks across the quad and sees Williams, grinning wildly, with the gun.
The assailant returns to the bathroom.
“People were tripping over tree trunks, throwing backpacks and screaming, running. There were a lot of ‘Oh my Gods.’ People were running all over the place like when you drop water on ants. That is what it looked like . . . ants,” Noble says.
* 9:22 a.m.: The first call to 911.
* 9:30 a.m.: San Diego County Sheriff’s Deputy Ali Perez and his partner, Pat Burns, respond. Nervous students point them toward the restroom in the 200 Building. Off-duty San Diego Police Officer Robert Clark, on campus to enroll his daughter, is already there.
They enter the boys restroom. Williams is kneeling with the gun raised over his head but pointed to the side. They confront him and demand he drop the gun. They repeat the demand several times.
Perez tackles Williams and yells for his partners to check the stalls for accomplices.
Williams tells Perez: “It’s only me.”
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How the Shooting Happened
At first, students didn’t realize that what sounded like firecrackers was really gunfire. Authorities gave this account of events:
Charles Andrew Williams, 15, shoots two students in bathroom.
Williams exits, fires indiscriminately into courtyard, wounding 13, then retreats into bathroom.
Williams surrenders to police in bathroom. Students remain locked in classrooms during shooting.
Police evacuate students and faculty to nearby shopping center.
SWAT units take up positions on athletic fields.
Sources: Staff reports, Santana High School Web site.
Graphics reporting by BRADY MacDONALD and MIKE FANEUFF/ Los Angeles Times