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Breaking News

Michigan Prosecutor Holds News Conference on Buell Elementary School Shooting

Aired February 29, 2000 - 2:40 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: We are joining a live news conference in Mount Morris Township, Michigan where, this morning, there was a shooting at the local elementary school -- Buell Elementary School. A 6-year-old girl died in the shooting. Another 6-year-old is apparently in police custody. We hope to learn more from authorities who are now meeting with reporters.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

ART BUSCH, GENESEE CO. PROSECUTOR: It would appear from the investigation so far that there may have been some sort of scuffle or quarrel on the playground the day before the shooting between this little boy and this little girl.

I received a call just a few minutes ago from the Department of Education, and President Clinton has offered to help our community by sending in a team of people to work with the school, to work with the children, and to work with our community to help us over this trauma. And, in fact, the offer graciously made also included to hook us up with other school districts such as that in Denver and Oregon to help us work through this trauma that our community has experienced.

We are very interested, and as I said, we will get the bottom of how that gun got into that little boy's hands. We want to know who had the gun and where it was left. And at this point, investigators are working towards that end. I also had a conversation with the Family Independence Agency today about the little boy. The little boy is now in the custody of the FIA, and we will work with the Protective Services Department to make sure that the little boy is protected and that he is in a safe environment. We understand that there may be a sibling as well. And as I understand it, the FIA as moved to find the sibling and take the sibling...

(AUDIO GAP)

.. any questions that you might have, along with me, for those of you who aren't from our community, is Eric King (ph). He's the police chief of Mount Morris Township, and Ira Rutherford, who is the superintendent of schools in Beecher.

QUESTION: What is the boy's family situation?

BUSCH: Well, at this point it's not clear to us, and we have investigators who are sorting that out, as to who lives in the house where he lives, and so forth.

QUESTION: Has the boy been interviewed at this point by police?

BUSCH: Yes, the boy has been interviewed by the police, and initially gave a story that did not appear to make much sense to the police. The story that ultimately came out -- initially, I think I told somebody here in this room that we learned that there might have been a boy who had the gun handed off to him who then unloaded the gun. It appears that that was not the case, that, in fact, the shooter had the gun at all times, and then later the principal and I believe a school teacher ended up getting the gun from the boy.

QUESTION: What, if any, charges could this boy face -- the 6- year-old boy?

BUSCH: Well, there is a presumption in law, according to a case called Alan (ph) vs. The United States, which is an old case, an 1893 case -- it's been cited many times across the country -- there's a presumption that a child 6-years-old is not criminally responsible and cannot form the intent to kill necessary to have a criminal prosecution. Now, that's not to say that those who provided that weapon to that boy or created a circumstance where he could get that weapon might not be held accountable for their gross negligence, if it is -- turns out to be negligence that exists here. And we have charged that in the past. And in Michigan, we've charged crimes such as manslaughter -- involuntary manslaughter, which is a 15-year felony here in Michigan.

QUESTION: What, then, do you say to parents who, if the 6-year- old is not charged in any way, if he is allowed to go out, back into the community?

BUSCH: What do we say to the parents? Well, first of all, we're not sure where this little boy is going go right now. The police and the FIA investigators are busy at work and we want to know about where this little boy is staying. We want to make sure that, wherever he stays, that he's safe and that he cannot hurt other people. Obviously, he has done a very terrible thing today, but legally he can't be held responsible in the criminal justice system.

UNIDENTIFIED WXYZ ANCHOR: You've been watching a news conference by the Genesee County Prosecutor Art Busch about the shooting...

WATERS: All right, as the anchor lady there from WXYZ said, that was Arthur Busch, a Genesee County, Michigan prosecutor telling us a 6-year-old boy is in custody, ensuring his safety and that he will not hurt anyone else. This boy believed to have done the shooting at the Buell Elementary School earlier today in which another student, a 6- year-old girl, was killed. They say the boy is not criminally -- is not legally -- cannot legally be prosecuted for this crime, but they are investigating the family situation of the boy which might lead to charges against anyone who may have given a gun to the boy.

They're still sorting all this out, as you can tell. There are fewer bits of information available than we would like in order to put this story into context. We know that there was a scuffle, according to the prosecutor, a quarrel, the day before -- that would be yesterday -- between the little boy who apparently did the shooting and the little girl who died early this morning.

We'll keep track of developments in this story. As soon as we know more, we'll pass it right along to you.

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