In the fall of my sophomore year of high school, a nondescript kid who had dropped out maybe a month earlier showed up one morning with a double-barreled shotgun. That was unheard of in those days. His intended target was a football player who had tormented him for, evidently, years, making fun of his chipmunk cheeks and so on.
Francis Brown is extremely lucky he chose that day to be absent. I was in my first-period English class when the assistant principal came and locked us down in our classroom. None of us had any idea what was happening, but we could see outside and couldn’t help but notice the six or seven Concord Police cars, plus what looked like a SWAT team coming in.
The whole thing didn’t last long. Apparently Louis headed to the third floor first, thinking he’d find Frances there. Soon, Don LeBrun, the football coach, somehow became involved. Louis took a couple of hostages, no one who had done him any harm, I guess, but were just kind of there. There was a standoff in front of the principal’s office, where Coach LeBrun was pleading with Louis to lose the gun. As accounts have it, Louis kept raising the gun, and lowering it. There were CPD officers with guns trained on him, crouched in the stairwell below the lobby. Finally the gun came up one too many times and someone fired a shot. The way the story goes, the bullet bounced off Louis’ belt buckle, which lent sort of a supernatural aspect to the proceedings since he didn’t even budge. Then he turned the shotgun on the cops, while his two hostages fled (I will always remember the sound of the gunfire echoing up the hallway and watching Scot Hayes jump out a window and run over the Phil and Larry’s convenience store).
A cop who was a notorious asshole wound up killing Louis Cartier, and although he was fully justified in doing so, I didn’t lose any sleep over the fact that the cop was sufficiently traumatized to leave the force. The guy was just a real prick.
A few minutes after we heard the shots and saw Scot running across the street, they brought someone outside on a stretcher under a white sheet. Mostly white, anyway–we could see the bloodstains from three stories up. I think they got him in the head.
Louis had been in the class ahead of mine. I didn’t know him to even look at. There were around 450 or 500 kids in a typical class, and he was just someone no one really knew. But apparently Frances knew him well enough to give him grief, and he’s lucky he lived.
That was part of a star-crossed couple of months at CHS. In January, the Space Shuttle Challenger disintegrated 73 seconds into lift-off carrying one of our teachers, sending us home once again for close to a week and rocking the entire community.