LAKE WORTH, Fla. — A 13-year-old student sent home from school for throwing water balloons on the last day of classes returned and fatally shot a teacher with a semiautomatic pistol Friday, police said.
Police Chief William Smith said that seventh-grader Nathaniel Brazill returned to Lake Worth Community Middle School shortly before 3:30 p.m. He spoke to teacher Barry Grunow, pulled out a .25-caliber pistol and fired a single shot, killing the 35-year-old language arts teacher, the chief said.
Brazill flagged down a police officer about a quarter-mile from the school and surrendered. He was being questioned by police late Friday.
There were no other injuries and no other suspects, Smith said.
Brazill had returned to school to see some students in Grunow's class before school let out for the summer, Police Lt. Rachel Houston said. When the teacher asked him to leave the classroom, the boy pulled out the gun and fired, Houston said.
Grunow, of Lake Worth, was shot in the face, said Mabel Cardec, a spokeswoman for the Palm Beach County school board. Grunow was one of Brazill's teachers, but another teacher had had the boy suspended.
Amanda Grunwald, 13, who was in Grunow's class, said the teacher was standing in the doorway, talking to students in the hallway when he was shot.
"He was standing out in the hall, telling everybody to go back into class because it wasn't time to be dismissed," she said. "Five seconds later he was shot."
Brazill likely will be charged with murder, but must appear before a judge this morning to determine whether he will be charged as an adult or juvenile. He was taken to a juvenile detention center Friday night.
Police said Brazill got the gun and bullets from a dresser drawer at his grandfather's house last week. Smith said police are considering filing charges against the grandfather, who was not identified.
Brazill's grandmother, Eberlena Josey, said the boy went to her house mad and wanting a key to his house about 2:30 p.m. Josey said her daughter had called her in the morning and said that Brazill was being suspended and that he was going to have to walk home.
She said she didn't have a gun in her house. It was not clear if she is related to the grandfather police said owned the gun used in the shooting.
"I thought he was the best boy. He was good," she said.
The gun used in the slaying was described as a Raven, a semiautomatic manufactured by Phoenix Arms. The pistol is compact, barely 5 inches long, and is easily concealed.
Brazill earned A's and Bs and had perfect attendance, said Nat Harrington, a spokesman for the school board. "He had no problems of any kind, prior to this," he said.
Harrington said Brazill told investigators he liked Grunow.
Outside the apartment where Brazill lives with his mother, stepfather and 2-year-old sister, neighbors said he was not a troublemaker. Carmen Torres said she often heard him playing the flute or would see him playing basketball outside with his friends.
Grunow, who had worked at the school for seven years, had a wife, a 5-year-old son and infant daughter.
Lake Worth is just south of West Palm Beach. The school has about 1,500 students.