Parents of teen accused of shooting teacher think it was an accident

LAKE WORTH, Fla. - The parents of a 13-year-old boy charged with fatally shooting a teacher at school said he genuinely liked the man and they believe the shooting was an accident.

''He loved Mr. Grunow. They were best friends,'' Nathaniel Brazill's mother, Polly Powell told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Wednesday. ''You just don't shoot your best friends. This was just an accident, a tragedy.''

She said she and the boy's father haven't asked him if he was responsible for English teacher Barry Grunow's death. When they visit the teen in juvenile detention, they pray and talk about family, she said.

''We don't talk about what happened,'' said the boy's father, Nathaniel Brazill, 42, ''We are just trying to comfort him and assure him we are here for him.''

Powell said her son had never been in trouble. He was a bookworm and musician whom she had taught to believe education was his key to the world, she said.

''I always told him that he being a black man in this world today without an education he wouldn't make it very far,'' Powell said.

Brazill was sent home from school Friday, the last day of classes, for throwing water balloons. Police say a security shows him returning later that day with a gun and shooting Grunow when the 35-year-old teacher refused to let him talk to two girls in his class.

Police said Wednesday that a female classmate said Nathaniel told her as he was leaving that he was going to come back and shoot Lake Worth Community Middle School counselor Kevin Hinds, who suspended him.

''Just watch, I'll be all over the news,'' he told her, according to Police Chief William Smith. Smith said the girl, also 13, didn't take him seriously, just as other students had not when he talked about shooting someone in the days leading up to the Friday's shooting.

The boy's court-appointed lawyer, Randy Berman, said Nathaniel knew that Hinds wasn't in Grunow's classroom and that the boy had gone there to say good-bye to his friends for the summer.

''If he was supposedly so mad, so angry, what's he doing hanging around Mr. Grunow's classroom,'' Berman said. ''Maybe he wanted to impress the girls by showing them the gun. When Mr. Grunow confronted him, he could have pulled it out and it accidentally went off.''

Police said the gun was believed to have been stolen from the boy's grandfather's house.

Nathaniel, who excelled in class and had dreams of going to college and becoming a Secret Service agent protecting the president, is in juvenile detention and in a sort of daze, Berman said.

''He can't believe it happened,'' Berman said. ''He can't really put his finger on how it all occurred.''

The boy is charged as an adult and could face life in prison without parole if convicted.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment