Ohio student who shot self dies; motive remains unclear

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Keith Simons died of what police said was a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Gatehouse Media Ohio

JACKSON TOWNSHIP, Ohio — Police continue working to determine why a 13-year-old boy shot a rifle in a bathroom at Jackson Memorial Middle School before classes began Tuesday morning.

Keith Simons died Wednesday afternoon from injuries caused by what authorities called a self-inflicted gunshot wound. No additional information about Simon’s death is currently available, as it remains under investigation by township police and the Summit County Medical Examiner’s office.

During a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Jackson Police Chief Mark Brink said the investigation is ongoing and will take “a long period of time.”

Until the investigation is finished, police can’t say why Simons brought the rifle to school or what he planned to do with it, Brink said.

When asked by reporters, Brink said he wasn’t going to speculate on the teen’s intentions. “We can make assumptions. I’m not willing to do that. I want to wait until I know for sure what that plan was,” he said.

Nothing in social media posts or in discussions with friends and school officials indicates Simons was a threat to his fellow students, Brink said.

So far, officers have been interviewing people and reviewing cell phones and electronic devices that have been confiscated.

“We’re going to attempt to find out what exactly he was planning for yesterday morning,” Brink said. “We still are in the process now of learning exactly what Keith had done during the morning.”

Police know that the gun Simons used came from his mother’s home and he concealed the .22-caliber rifle underneath his clothing. Brink said he had no more details to share about how he got the weapon into the school.

“I think it’s important to know that he was in contact with numerous people on his way to school. He did ride the school bus to school, and nobody noticed that he had anything with him,” Brink said.

It is still unclear if Simons fired the gun intentionally or accidentally. Brink said the shooting hasn’t been labeled a suicide. More information likely will be available after an autopsy is completed, he said.

A backpack Simons carried to school contained “bottle rockets,” batteries and ammunition. Brink would not say how much ammunition was in the backpack.

Reports Simons had a bomb aren’t correct, Brink said. “There was nothing in there that would make you believe that he had a bomb.”

Several times during the brief press conference, Brink referenced “misinformation” being posted on social media sites following the incident, although he offered few details. He said details will be shared once the department’s investigation is finished.

There has been speculation in social media that others were involved with Simons, but that remains unsubstantiated. “At this time, we’ve not been able to find anybody was even aware of what was going on with Keith yesterday morning,” Brink said.

On a 911 call, released to media Wednesday, an assistant principal at the middle school told a dispatcher a student had shot himself and needed help, though his pulse remained steady.

Members of Simons’ family Wednesday told The Canton Repository they weren’t prepared to talk and asked for privacy.

Simons has few public posts on his social media accounts on Instagram and Facebook, and they don’t indicate he planned to take a gun to school.

A post on his mother’s Facebook page says she previously was part of a military community and has many friends who served or still are serving in the armed forces.

From The Canton (Ohio) Repository. Reporters Tim Botos, Samantha Ickes, Alison Matas and Edd Pritchard contributed to this report.

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