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EL CAJON SCHOOL SHOOTINGS

Father's Frantic Worry Gives Way to Sense of Pride

Reaction: A retired faculty member recounts how his teacher daughter, after treatment for wounds, stayed at the hospital to help other victims.

March 23, 2001|KURT STREETER and KEN ELLINGWOOD | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

EL CAJON, Calif. — James Zumwalt has always been proud of his daughter Fran, who followed in his footsteps and those of his wife, Margarida, to become a teacher at Granite Hills High School.

On Thursday, he was frantic with worry--and then very proud of her again.

Fran Zumwalt, a 47-year-old social studies teacher, was slightly wounded Thursday by shotgun pellets allegedly fired by Jason Hoffman, 18.

She was one of five injured by gunfire--in addition to the suspect, who was shot by a campus police officer. At least two students and a parent suffered other complaints, including chest pains and shortness of breath.

Treated at Scripps Mercy Hospital for wounds to her leg and jaw, Zumwalt could have checked out of the hospital, her father said, but chose to stay on, trying to help students still under treatment there.

"She's known as a friendly teacher, the type who does a lot for her students," said James Zumwalt, 75, who taught civics and history at Granite Hills for two decades before he retired in 1988, a year before Fran began teaching there. "She's very devoted."

Zumwalt, who talked to his daughter after the shooting, said she told him she was in a corridor outside the school office when she was hit.

"She thinks [Hoffman] was out to shoot one of the administrators . . . one of the vice principals," he said. "She was walking back to her room from the office. She wasn't too far from the fellow when he started shooting. She got caught by some of the bullets."

In the wake of the recent shootings in nearby Santee, Zumwalt said he and his wife had become concerned about the chance that violence might strike Granite Hills. They talked to their daughter about it but didn't press the point.

Then, on Thursday, Zumwalt feared the worst when he caught a radio report of another shooting.

"I was really scared. I didn't know she was involved at first. When we found out she was, we were really worried. . . . We live in a dangerous world now."

Zumwalt said it is hard to fathom how much things have changed in education.

"There was nothing like this when I was a teacher," he said. "When we were there, even in the '80s, we had meetings about the lengths of skirts and chewing gum. Nothing like this stuff going on."

Of the shooting victims, Andrew "Sonny" Yafuso, a 16-year-old junior, was the most seriously wounded, officials said. Hit in the face, chest and arm, he was in serious but stable condition at Sharp Memorial Hospital late Thursday, officials said.

Relatives reached at Yafuso's grandmother's home in National City said he was "doing OK" late Thursday, and was awake and talking to family members at the hospital. They said he did not know the gunman.

Eleanor Enriquez, his grandmother, said she was watching a soap opera when it was interrupted with news of a school shooting. She thought immediately of the Santana High School attack in Santee.

"I'd never thought it would happen at the one [Sonny] was at," she said before being whisked away by hospital staff.

Trauma physician Frank Kennedy estimated that the youth was shot from three to seven yards away.

Cousin Johnny Yafuso, 20, reached in Chula Vista, said Sonny's family recently moved to the grandmother's home from El Cajon, where they had lived off and on for many years. After the move, Sonny wanted to continue at Granite Hills, his cousin said. "I don't know about after this, though," Johnny Yafuso said.

Former neighbors of the family, many of whom described Sonny as a friendly, responsible youth who was constantly playing street football with his brothers, expressed shock that he had been hurt in the shooting.

"He's just a good kid," said Daniel Cohen, 18, who lives across the street from the family's former home.

Another victim, Shanda Hughes, suffered a grazing wound to the right leg, police said. The Granite High junior was treated at Scripps Mercy Hospital and discharged. She was shot after having left her physics class and go to the office, said fellow student Anthony Algeri, 17.

"When the shooting started, it sounded like someone kicking a metal trash can," Algeri said. "Then a lot of screaming, people crying 'Oh, my God, he's got a gun!' "

Other victims included:

* Priscilla Murphy, 53, a resource teacher in special education who suffered a grazing wound to the left arm and leg. She was treated and released at UC San Diego Hospital. She has taught at the school since 1982, according to the Granite Hills Web site. A woman reached at Murphy's home declined to comment, referring all calls to the school district.

* Toby Haltstead, 15, shot in the arm and in the leg. He was treated at Scripps Mercy and discharged.

* William Dietzler, a student who was hurt running across the street from the scene of the shooting. He was treated at UC San Diego Hospital, but the nature of his injury was not known.

* Carina Scribellito, 17, who suffered hyperventilation. She was treated at Grossmont Hospital and discharged.

* An unidentified 15-year-old who was treated for shortness of breath at Grossmont Hospital and released.

* A 51-year-old man who suffered chest pains while running to the campus to find his child after the shooting.

*

Times staff writers Rebecca Trounson, Scott Martelle, Noaki Schwartz and Christine Hanley contributed to this story.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

The Injured

Listed are the members of Granite Hills High School who were injured during the shooting. The victims are students unless otherwise noted. Some photos were not available.

*

Andrew 'Sonny' Yafuso

15; shot in the upper chest, face and left arm

*

Shanda Hughes

Junior, grazed by gunshot on her right leg

*

Fran Zumwalt

Social studies teacher; grazed by gunshot on leg and jaw

*

Toby Haltstead

15; shot in arm and leg

*

Priscilla Murphy

Teacher; grazed by gunshot on left arm and leg

*

William Dietzler

Injured while running across street from shooting scene

*

Carina Scribellito

17; briefly hospitalized

*

Source: El Cajon Police Dept.

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