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The State

Teen Failed Twice Before Hanging Self

November 21, 2001|From Associated Press

SAN DIEGO — The teenager who hanged himself in jail a month after pleading guilty to shooting five people on a high school campus had tried to kill himself several times while behind bars, the county medical examiner's office reported.

Most of those efforts involved trying to make a noose out of bedsheets, investigator James Buckley wrote in a report released Monday.

Jason Hoffman, 18, finally did hang himself in his cell Oct. 29, a month after pleading guilty to shooting up Granite Hills High School in El Cajon last spring. He killed himself by fashioning a noose out of bedsheets.

Sheriff's Lt. Jerry Lewis said he was aware that Hoffman had threatened suicide at least twice before killing himself. "If there's other ones, I don't know," he said.

On one occasion, Lewis said, Hoffman was placed in a padded cell after guards found torn sheets in his cell. He was returned to a regular cell after a doctor's evaluation.

Lewis said the other threat didn't come to light until after Hoffman was dead. An inmate told investigators that the teenager had said something about being unhappy but that he didn't take the remark seriously enough to tell authorities.

Hoffman's mother, Denise Marquez, said she is considering suing.

Hoffman had rarely been in trouble before the shooting, but had been diagnosed as clinically depressed.

On March 22, he arrived on campus with a shotgun and a .22-caliber pistol. He wounded three students and two teachers before a campus police officer shot him.

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