Suspect in Va. college shooting said to be angry about grade

A community college student was upset about his grades when he walked into a classroom and fired two shots at his professor before his new rifle jammed, police said Wednesday.
By Mary Pat Flaherty and Matt Zapotosky
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, December 10, 2009

Anger over a poor grade drove Jason M. Hamilton to target his college math teacher with a hunting rifle -- and only a gun jam prevented him from getting off extra shots in a full classroom, Prince William County police said Wednesday.

His weapon malfunctioning and rendered useless, Hamilton, 20, leaned it against the door frame of the classroom Tuesday and took a seat in the hall to wait for police, officers said.

Hamilton gave officers a statement when they arrived at Northern Virginia Community College's Woodbridge campus, according to court documents. He said "basically, 'I'm the guy you want,' " said Maj. Ray Colgan, assistant police chief for criminal investigations.

Hamilton, of Manassas, was charged with attempted murder and discharging a firearm in a school zone.

During the attack, the teacher shouted "run" to her students before ducking under her desk. Hamilton got off two shots that missed before the gun jammed, police said. No one was injured.

After being absent from the class for several weeks, Hamilton returned with a fury Tuesday, police and eyewitnesses said. A long, black canvas bag at his side, he stood outside the classroom door in the main administration building as other students filed in.

Jessica Gilbert, 18, said she asked him what he was doing. " 'I'm waiting for her,' " Gilbert recalled him saying, an apparent reference to the teacher. Hamilton had otherwise been nondescript, several classmates said.

"Not somebody you pay attention to," said 18-year-old Alyssa Brown.

"Just another face in the class," said Amanda Guevara, also 18.

On Monday, police said, Hamilton bought a Marlin rifle at a Dick's Sporting Goods store in Woodbridge. Early Tuesday, police said, he bought ammunition at the same store. By 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, he was heading into the back of Room 412, where his teacher had just told everyone to boot up their computers, students said.

He pointed the .30-06 rifle with a 26-inch barrel at the professor and fired, police said.

"We look back, and we see him in the doorway, like, reloading his gun," Gilbert said. "He just seemed, like, determined, and he had, like, a really nasty smirk on his face."

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