Probable cause found in Colorado school shooting case
April 29, 2010
GOLDEN, Colo. – A man accused of shooting and wounding two Colorado eighth-graders just after the school day ended said he woke up feeling angry, violent and “transformed upon” before he went to their middle school, an investigator testified at a preliminary hearing Wednesday.
Bruco Strong Eagle Eastwood, 32, allegedly told investigators that his main concern was “accuracy” as he aimed a hunting rifle at students outside the school, sheriff’s investigator Richard Gove testified.
Jefferson County Judge Thomas Vance found probable cause Wednesday to proceed with 15 counts including attempted first-degree murder against Eastwood. He is being held with bail set at $1 million and hasn’t entered a plea.
Public defender Thea Reiff said after the hearing that defense attorneys are investigating what role psychosis and mental illness played in the case.
Gove’s testimony offered the most detailed public glimpse so far of what allegedly led up to the shootings Feb. 23 outside Deer Creek Middle School in south suburban Denver, not far from Columbine High School.
Though his journal included early morning entries that day, Eastwood told investigators he woke up around 11:30 a.m. and decided to drive to the school, about 55 miles southwest of his father’s house in Hudson, where he was living, Gove said.
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Eastwood said he took his backpack, cigarettes, $23 cash and his dad’s rifle, then bought ammunition at a sporting goods store, Gove said. After stopping at a McDonald’s for some chicken sandwiches, he entered the school, said he had attended it in 1991 or 1992, and asked if he could tour it.
He was told he would have to wait until students left. He waited in his car and watched a sheriff’s deputy who is assigned to the school drive away to another call, sheriff’s investigators testified.
He told investigators he approached a group of students and said, “Do you like going to this school,” before shooting Reagan Webber in the arm, Gove said. He then aimed at a boy who was running away, Gove said. Matt Thieu suffered a chest wound the size of a saucer plate, a sheriff’s deputy testified. Three of his ribs were exposed, and he had a collapsed lung and a couple of broken ribs, emergency room doctor Kevin Merrell testified.
Teachers tackled and restrained Eastwood until deputies arrived.
Sheriff’s deputy Frederick Lang said Eastwood was speaking with “a poor attempt” at a European accent, smelled of stale alcohol, looked like a transient and talked about his rights as Lang tried to arrest him.
Eastwood told investigators he was poor, hadn’t fit in with classmates when he attended Deer Creek, and was subject to bullying and harassment, Gove said.
He also mentioned he had been hospitalized after reporting hearing voices from a television-rating box and that he had felt he was losing control over his life due to “forces taking over his psyche,” Gove testified.
During the more than four-hour hearing Wednesday, Eastwood listened to testimony, sometimes stretching, writing on a pad, peering at Reiff’s computer, and turning to look around the courtroom.
Eastwood is set to be arraigned June 14. He faces two counts each of attempted murder after deliberation, attempted murder with extreme indifference, assault with a weapon, assault with extreme indifference and child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury.
He also faces four counts of crime of violence and one count of unlawful possession of a weapon on school grounds.