The toxicology reports are back, and, indeed, this nice, average kid was changed by marijuana use, and K2 was found in his system. Hopefully, some lessons will be learned.
This (what’s not indented below) is an email I received today from someone in my anti-drug group; it’s nothing unusual; it typifies the lives of drug users who end up violent ….. again, it’s nothing unusual but you need to read it.
We get a myriad of these emails, in fact, these types of repors are so plentiful, most of us quit reporting the majority of them, even to each other; we know the damage pot and drugs do. Most every one of us, have lost loved ones (mostly children) to drugs. Our goal is to reach parents who (because of our involvement) may save their children! This may sound like the Tucson story of Loughner; it’s not.
He fired several other shots and then escaped and killed himself in a nearby parking lot, sending our community into shock.
By all accounts, the student was just a typical kid. Dad is a respected Omaha Police detective. The student had lived with mom in Lincoln and started getting in trouble. So, the divorced mom sent him to live with dad after a few months into his senior year. Those of us in drug prevention wondered if drugs played a part in this bizarre and tragic story..
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I lived in Springfield, Or. When the shooting happened here. Kip Kinkel killed 2 students and woulded 13 others.
It too, impacted everyone in my community emotionally, especially my son; his favorite teacher was Faith Kinkel; Kip had killed both his parents before heading off to Thurston High.
I’m going to publish the text of the article from the paper below the next line; hopefully, the editor will see the need for this and overlook the story on my blog.
It’s likely that druggies who believe in legalization will see it and complain to him, but publishing it is worth a shot.
Using drugs is so dangerous! The legalization is so wrong ….. they lie; they don’t care how it impacts others as long as they can get high!
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Drug abuse part of shooter’s troubles
“Where’s Robert been?” he asked the teen’s mother when he spotted her walking the family dog in early January.
She said the 17-year-old had moved to Omaha to live with his dad — be with a different crowd, have different discipline — because he’d been getting into trouble.
Just two days later came the news that the teen, Robert Butler Jr., had taken a gun to his Omaha school and opened fire, killing Millard South Assistant Principal Vicki Kaspar and wounding Principal Curtis Case. Then he killed himself in his red 2005 Honda.
How the boy Venema knew became the Millard South shooter remains a mystery.
“It seems weird to say now, but Robert was a good kid,” said Venema, who has lived across the street from Butler’s mother and stepfather for six years. “It almost makes you believe that anybody’s capable of doing something, if this kid was.”
Lincoln law enforcement officers and school officials agree that Butler’s record shows nothing so alarming that would foreshadow the Jan. 5 shootings. But interviews with friends and psychologists over the past three weeks indicate that even if Butler masked the typical warning signs of a troubled teen, there were at least a half-dozen risk factors.
The social isolation of moving to a new school as a senior. Living in a different home under the new rules of a less familiar parent. Growing up in a split family.
Friends hint at possible drug use — hints that may be substantiated by new drug test results that reveal the presence of K2, a synthetic marijuana substitute, in Butler’s body. Authorities have said the designer drug was used by some students at Butler’s former school, Lincoln Southwest, and say it’s known to cause delusions and paranoia in some users. Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine said he cannot speculate whether the substance influenced Butler’s behavior on the day of the shooting. He said further analysis would be done, but it might not yield more answers.
Despite the efforts of Nebraska lawmakers to ban K2, the synthetic pot remains widely available.
The shooting happened days after Butler, a 17-year-old senior, was caught “drifting” — spinning and fishtailing his car — on Millard South’s track and football field over New Year’s weekend.
Butler was ticketed by police, and his dad locked up his car.
As soon as he returned to school after the holiday break, Butler got notice he was suspended for 19 days. He’d gone home to the apartment he shared with his father, an Omaha police detective who was home because he worked evenings. The son stayed behind when his dad left for 45 minutes to run errands. Butler broke into the garage to get his car and returned to school with his father’s service weapon, a Glock .40 semiautomatic handgun.
Witnesses said Butler signed in before going into Kaspar’s office and shooting her three times. He shot Case three times after leaving Kaspar’s office. Butler died in his car blocks away, having shot himself in the head.
No one thing in and of itself explains the shootings, stressed Craig Anderson, distinguished professor of psychology at Iowa State University, who was interviewed before results of the drug test were known.
“People want simple answers that suggest simple solutions. But human behavior isn’t that simple,” he said.
One forensic toxicologist said he has no doubt that K2 contributed.
“This material will make you crazy. This is dangerous stuff,” said Dr. Ernest Lykissa, whose Texas-based ExperTox lab is among the few nationally that test for synthetic pot. He said Butler’s test results mean he likely smoked K2 within the last 24 hours of his life.
Butler’s mother, Julie Beekman, has declined interview requests, saying, “We have to protect ourselves into the future.”
Robert Butler Sr., after a leave apparently prompted by his son’s death, also has turned down interview requests.
Butler was taken out of Lincoln Southwest High School, where he was within two classes of graduation, to transfer to Millard South. His last day was Oct. 6, about three weeks before the first quarter ended. Two of his closest friends said they didn’t know he was leaving until after he was gone.
The family’s pastor acknowledged “struggles” but declined to provide details. Omaha Police Chief Alex Hayes told reporters immediately after the shooting that “some sort of disciplinary problems” had prompted the transfer. “Being tardy at school, not listening to mom, that sort of thing,” he said.
Butler’s friends and acquaintances said they had heard he’d gotten into some fights, but they dismissed them as minor scrapes in which Butler was not the aggressor.
One friend, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Butler had experimented with marijuana, and had performed community service work after some legal trouble in late 2009 or early 2010. The friend did not know the exact offense.
Whatever trouble Butler was experiencing, it apparently was not serious enough to result in a police or juvenile court record. Checks turned up only an April 2010 speeding ticket.
Apparently even the woman who died at Butler’s hands had been puzzled by the transfer.
Kaspar had been among the Millard South officials who questioned why Butler was being uprooted, according to an official familiar with her concerns.
“I don’t understand why his parents are doing this,” Kaspar reportedly said. She spoke to Butler’s father about the decision, but the senior Butler was resolute, reassuring Kaspar and other school administrators that his son would run in circles if they asked him to.
* * *
His Lincoln friends described Butler as a classroom cutup, someone who had a way of disarming adults and schoolmates with jokes and charm. Even though he would sometimes disrupt class, even teachers couldn’t stay mad at him for long, friends said.
“He always did what he was supposed to do,” said his friend Kamal Amir Harris, an 18-yearold senior. “He was afraid to get into trouble.”
Butler’s Lincoln friends said they saw no signs that their friend was disturbed before he moved to Omaha. No seething temper. No talk of suicide. No threats of violence.
Mirela Kulovac, a 16-year-old junior, said Butler once told her he was feeling pressure from his parents, work and school. But she said Butler didn’t talk about his problems much. Other friends agreed. He would occasionally get angry and frustrated, but he cooled off quickly, in a way the teenagers viewed as normal.
Mustafa Attaie, 17, who was friends with Butler since middle school, said Butler’s mom had caught her son doing something she disapproved of and wanted his dad to “straighten him up.” He declined to provide specifics, saying, “Robert wouldn’t want me to tell.”
Attaie would not comment when asked if Butler experimented with K2. “I talked to his mom after he died, and what his mom told me was that he was getting into trouble at home, he was arguing with his mom a lot,” Attaie said. “His mom didn’t know what to do so she decided to send him to his dad so he could get a male perspective.”
Yasmine Kamelian, a 14-yearold freshman, said she talked frequently with Butler on the phone before and after his move. She said the move and the reasons behind it were a touchy subject.
“He just said it was ‘trouble,’ ” she said. “He seemed to get really tense when I brought it up, so we talked about something else.” Harris said he thought Butler and his mother got along.
“She’s a real sweet lady,” Harris said. “They weren’t constantly bumping heads. He had his occasional spats with his parents, but it would be over something like not doing his chores.”
Until moving in with his father in October, Butler had lived with his mother his entire life. Friends said that Butler’s funeral was the first time they met their friend’s dad. Butler had spoken proudly of his father and his occupation as a police officer.
Attaie said he and Butler had planned to attend college together and become police officers, maybe even partners.
Butler hadn’t given up on that dream, Attaie said. He talked of coming back to Lincoln after graduating in May, so the two friends could enjoy one last summer of freedom before starting community college in the fall.
According to Lancaster County District Court child support records, Butler’s parents never were married to each other, although they lived together intermittently from when Robert was born in 1993 until he was about 4 years old. Julie Beethe, as she was then known, had grown up on a farm in southeastern Nebraska and worked at the Lincoln newspaper. Butler’s father, a Navy veteran and graduate of Lincoln High School, was beginning his career at the Lincoln Police Department.
Court records indicate Butler Sr.’s first marriage, which ended in 1990, produced a half brother about five years older than Butler. Another marriage, which produced a half sister about five years younger than Butler, ended in 2000.
People who worked with Butler Sr. described him as a proud dad, always talking about his kids and displaying their photos on his desk.
In the summer of 1997, Robert Jr. and his mother moved out of an apartment they had shared with Robert Butler Sr. and into a basement apartment of a duplex in central Lincoln, then owned by Ken and Laura Thalken of Ceresco, Neb.
Laura Thalken said the two lived in the duplex until Robert was about 10.
“My kids played with Robert,” she recalled. “The kids watched movies together and played cards. He was an average little kid.”
She said Beethe made it a priority to find a good school and a safe neighborhood for her son. The apartment was in the attendance area of Sheridan Elementary School, one of Lincoln’s topranked schools. “She was an attentive mom and they definitely had a great relationship,” Thalken said.
The Thalkens attended the wedding when Beethe married Chris Beekman in 2003.
“We hated to see them move out,” Thalken said. “But they were moving into a house, with a bigger backyard for Robert to play in.”
Harris described Butler’s stepdad as “a good guy,” and said Butler never complained about him.
Attaie said Butler basically had the basement of the ranchstyle home in southwest Lincoln as his pad.
The family attended Southwood Lutheran Church, where Robert was confirmed in the spring of 2007. Butler’s funeral, which was conducted by Pastor Greg Olson, drew about 750 people to the church.
Olson described Robert as a determined, sometimes stubborn child, who learned to crawl at 5 months to keep up with a crawling 7-month-old child at his day care. He went directly from a trike to riding a bike with no training wheels, to keep up with other children in his neighborhood. He loved tools and tinkering and visiting his grandparents’ farm, he said.
Olson did not know if Robert’s visits to the country included hunting, but state records indicate he completed a hunter safety course in December 2005.
Olson said he liked Butler, and described him as a boy with a lot of energy, a big smile and a mischievous gleam in his eye. “That’s why most of the people who knew him thought maybe he could get into trouble but, my goodness, this type of behavior didn’t seem to fit with the kind of kid he was.”
* * *
Attaie and Harris were part of a group of three or four boys who often hung out with Butler, playing video games on the Xbox, going to the Cooper YMCA to play basketball and swim and fixing up and street racing their cars.
Attaie said he laughed when he first heard about Butler’s “drifting” on the football field. Butler loved snow because he could take his car to an empty parking lot, shut off the traction control and spin out.
“That’s Robert,” Attaie said of the drifting incident.
Harris recalled that he and Butler liked to sit in the hot tub next to the YMCA pool and to go down the waterslide. The rule for the slide was feet first, he said, but Butler often got the lifeguard’s whistle because he liked to do twists and flips that put him in the water head first.
Attaie said he became friends with Butler at Scott Middle School in southwest Lincoln.
“We were sitting in algebra, and he made everyone laugh,” he said. “We got closer, and the next thing I knew I was asking him if he had Xbox or Xbox Live. I told him to buy this game ‘Gears of War.’ I told him everything I think about that game and that’s how we met and how we got closer.”
Attaie said he and his friends often played the game — a gory, alien-killing game not recommended for under age 12 — for several hours a day, several days a week.
They often played online from their separate homes, using microphones hooked up to their game machines to talk to each other not only about the game they were playing but also about school and girls and life in general.
Harris said he became part of the group when they started high school at Lincoln Southwest, getting to know Butler better through a mutual friend, Dakotah Cheever, who had been close friends with Butler since middle school.
“We all became, like, inseparable,” Harris said. Attaie and Harris said Cheever was Butler’s closest friend, the one whom Butler texted shortly before the shooting. Another friend said she was with Cheever when he received a text threatening suicide. No one took it seriously, she said, because Butler was such a jokester.
Police confiscated Cheever’s phone as part of the investigation of Butler’s last hours. Cheever’s mother, Cheryl, would not allow a reporter to talk to him.
“My son was one of his best friends,” she said. “Robert was here all the time. He was texting his friends before it happened. They thought he was joking around.”
* * *
Butler had complained to friends about living in Omaha. Attaie said Butler had a hard time making the adjustment from being a fairly popular student in Lincoln to being a newcomer at his new school.
In addition, he stopped playing his Xbox after he moved.
“His dad was real strict about that stuff,” Attaie said. “I’d, like, watch my Xbox for him, but he couldn’t get on. I’d text him now and then.”
Some friends and fellow students from Lincoln also alleged that Butler, whose mother is white and father is black, was experiencing racial taunts and bullying at his new school, although none could cite specific incidents.
Co-workers said he was outgoing at his new job at an Omaha Panera Bread.
Harris said Butler wrote on his Facebook wall, on Dec. 20, that he hated it in Omaha.
Attaie said he spoke to Butler for the last time in an early December telephone call.
“He was the same funny kid I knew,” he said. His friend described Omaha as “good to visit but not good to stay.”
Attaie said that Cheever tried to text and phone Butler the day of the shooting, but Butler had shut off his phone. Pastor Olson said Butler’s mother also said the phone was off.
“If a kid shuts off his phone, it’s a sign he’s in trouble,” Olson said. “He was turning everything off to the outside world.”
Venema, the Beekmans’ neighbor, recalled Butler as the boy he used to see out on the driveway with his friends, “washing his car and putting decals on his car. All the stuff that 17-year-old boys do.”
“You never saw any side of him but happy,” he said. “You wonder what the heck went through his mind, what was so bad that he thought this was the only way to go?
“There’s not a day gone by that I haven’t thought about it. I would never in a million years put him to do something like this. I just wonder.”