Mother of Conyers School Shooter Speaks OutAired March 1, 2000 - 2:14 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: School shootings in the United States have become all too frequent. It was near the end of school last year when a student opened fire on his classmates in Conyers, Georgia, about 25 miles east of Atlanta, six students were wounded in that shooting. None killed however.
For the first time, the mother of the shooting suspect has spoken with a reporter. Reporter Mark Winne (ph) from CNN affiliate WSB in Atlanta with the story.
MAE DEAN DANIELE, T.J. SOLOMON'S MOTHER: I think he totally, totally had a break down and totally released every frustration, every darkness, every anger every demon, everything thing that hurt.
MARK WINNE, WSB REPORTER (voice-over): He lives now in a youth detention center, accused in the shooting of six at Heritage High. But once, he lived here, a room with pinkish walls, perhaps almost as plain as those of his cell.
DANIELE: There's no expression, there is no emotion. He has his music. That was his expression.
WINNE (on camera): No posters on the wall.
DANIELE: No posters.
WINNE: Who picked the paintings?
DANIELE: I picked the paintings because they had scenes of water. And T.J. loves water. This is exactly like he had this room.
WINNE (voice-over): She says, once she was proud of it, now she sees it as a symptom of a son who didn't express what was inside, including the pain.
DANIELE: A deep-seated problem that finally erupted.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of our friends and his foot was bleeding, and he good shot in the foot.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody was screaming, they got a gun, they got a gun.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were six students that were inured.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WINNE: Beyond a room too neat, his mother admits now there were warning signs missed.
DANIELE: There has been very concrete ones.
WINNE: Start before the move to Georgia.
DANIELE: North Carolina was very good for T.J., star baseball player. Loved to play baseball. We did the transfer to Georgia in the 8th grade. One of the first things we did with him was to sign him up in the baseball league. T.J. walked up to take his time at batting tryout, and they would pitch to him and he would stand there.
WINNE: She says, eventually, he told her he just didn't want to play.
DANIELE: The first indication that we had that he just was not happy with baseball is what we thought at first.
In the 8th grade, whenever we did the transfer, we started noting the changes from all Bs, Cs, to a few Ds. In the ninth grade, we started to see Fs.
WINNE: She says, T.J. had been on Ritalin for years. There had been learning problems before. But by the shooting, the grades were worse than ever, and they knew he would not pass tenth grade. But...
DANIELE: We actually started to back off of him with the grades. To have pressured him anymore would have put additional frustration on to him.
WINNE: She recounts two school incidents, one a call from a counselor about a year before the shooting.
DANIELE: She had two students that did come forward and say that T.J. had told them that he did not want to live.
WINNE: She says T.J. told her he never said it. They were joking. But she took him straight to Rockdale Mental Health and a social worker.
DANIELE: Her exact words to me were: This is the sanest person I have talked to all day.
WINNE: Then, February '99 another call from school.
DANIELE: A student had reported seeing T.J. with a gun at school.
WINNE: She says he cut school early, maybe for the first time ever, and did not come home until midnight. But...
DANIELE: He denied having a gun.
WINNE (on camera): You believed him?
DANIELE: I do believe him.
WINNE: You still believe he didn't have a gun that day?
DANIELE: I still believe he did not have a gun that day.
WINNE (voice-over): She says they did many things right as parents.
DANIELE: Religious education once a week. Once a week Boy Scouts every Thursday night. We would hunt together as a family. We camped together as a family. These were routine activities.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: T.J. and I fished almost every weekend or every other weekend. He loved to fish. T.J. was fun to be with.
WINNE: Still, something went wrong.
DANIELE: I honestly did not see it. I honestly did not see it.
WATERS: That was Mark Winne from CNN affiliate WSB in Atlanta with that story.
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