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Teen Gunman Meets Father, Pleads Guilty

September 20, 1989 GMT

McKEE, Ky. (AP) _ A teen-ager pleaded guilty to holding 11 classmates hostage at gunpoint for up to 10 hours, then got his demand to see his father for the first time in 13 years.

Dustin Pierce, 17, had said during the siege Monday at Jackson County High School that he was angry with his distant father and wanted to see him. The boy, who had stormed the school with a shotgun and two pistols, surrendered after firing two shots.

″There’s a lot that has been resolved. There’s also a lot that needs to be resolved. We’ve got 13 years here to get caught up on,″ the father, Donald Pierce of Delray Beach, Fla., said Tuesday.

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″We talked,″ he said. ″There was a lot of misunderstanding, a lot of ...″

His voice trailed off and Pierce dropped his head in his hands and cried.

The younger Pierce on Tuesday pleaded guilty to 26 counts of kidnapping and wanton endangerment at a juvenile hearing. Hours later, he met with his mother and father, whom he hadn’t seen since he was 4, at a State Police post, Detective Robert Stephens said.

″When we were negotiating, we agreed that this meeting would take place,″ Stephens said. ″We agreed with them we would not talk about what they said and we are not going to.″

The family later emphasized that Dustin didn’t want to hurt anyone during the standoff.

″He just wanted to see his dad,″ said his mother, Carol Pierce.

Clay County Attorney Clay M. Bishop Jr. said he decided to prosecute Pierce as a juvenile. That means the boy, who turns 18 in July, probably will spend less than a year in custody. If tried as an adult, he could have received 325 years in prison.

″I think what you’ve got is just a scared, mixed-up little kid,″ the prosecutor said. ″He didn’t appear to us to be a criminal. We’re just trying to do what’s best for him.″

Pierce was held for psychological tests. No sentencing date was set.

Police said the normally well-behaved, straight-A student blew out a classroom window with a shotgun shortly after taking over his world-civilizati on class at the 500-student school in the rolling Appalachian foothills. No one was injured.

″He was real nice. He didn’t want to hurt anybody,″ said Brian Bond, 17, one of the hostages and a close friend.

The boy apparently was acting out the scenario of a Stephen King novel, ″Rage,″ in which a youth takes over a classroom in pursuit of what the author describes as a ″pathological rage fantasy about his father.″

King, who lives in Bangor, Maine, said he believed that Pierce was acting out ″Rage″ even before it was reported that police had found the novel in the boy’s home. But he denied that the book was to blame for the incident.

″If they didn’t do it one way, they would do it another way,″ he told the Bangor Daily News. ″Crazy is crazy.″