Public Safety

Iowa Teacher: 'Oh my gosh, he just tried to shoot me'

Scott County teacher recounts how 12-year-old pulled the trigger

North Scott Junior High School teacher Dawn Spring testifies Friday about the day then-12-year-old Luke Andrews pointed a gun at her face and pulled the trigger. The gun did not fire. Friday was the second day of testimony at the Scott County Courthouse in the trial of Andrews, who is charged as a youthful offender in adult court on charges of attempted murder, carrying weapons on school grounds and assault while using or displaying a dangerous weapon. (Kevin Schmidt, Quad City Times)
North Scott Junior High School teacher Dawn Spring testifies Friday about the day then-12-year-old Luke Andrews pointed a gun at her face and pulled the trigger. The gun did not fire. Friday was the second day of testimony at the Scott County Courthouse in the trial of Andrews, who is charged as a youthful offender in adult court on charges of attempted murder, carrying weapons on school grounds and assault while using or displaying a dangerous weapon. (Kevin Schmidt, Quad City Times)
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DAVENPORT — Junior high school teacher Dawn Spring was at the front of the classroom preparing an activity for the start of class when her student-teacher called out her name.

When Spring looked over, the seventh-grade social studies teacher saw a student pointing a gun at the classroom full of students.

Spring testified Friday in a Scott County courtroom that she walked toward Luke Andrews, then 12, to distract him from hurting other students at North Scott Junior High. He then walked toward her and the two ended up facing each other about 3 to 4 feet apart, she said.

Andrews said nothing. Spring said nothing. Then the boy raised the gun to his teacher’s face and pulled the trigger.

“I thought I heard an audible click from the gun, and then he turned the gun and kind of looked at it funny, like, ‘that’s weird.’ And then he put (it) up in my face a second time, and at that point my mind said, ‘Oh my gosh, he just tried to shoot me and I better not let that happen again.’

“So when the gun was up in my face the second time, I took my hand and I reached up and tried to bat the gun out of my face so it wasn’t (in) my face anymore. He put it right back up in my face again. And we did that probably two or three times. (I said) ‘Let’s go out in the hallway and talk,’ and thank goodness he cooperated.”

As Spring and other witnesses testified Friday on the second full day of testimony in Andrews’ trial, the now-13-year-old Andrews sat hunched over with his hand on his cheek, playing with a pen.

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The boy is being tried as a youthful offender in adult court on charges of attempted murder, carrying weapons on school grounds and assault while using or displaying a dangerous weapon.

Much of Friday’s testimony centered on what happened the morning of Aug. 31 in Room 29, Spring’s classroom, at the junior high school.

Kaitlyn MacDonald, the student-teacher assigned to Spring’s classroom, was taking attendance while Spring prepared an activity at the front of the class.

MacDonald testified Friday she was at her desk when she spotted Andrews walking down the hallway toward the classroom.

“I saw he was running late,” she said. “It was the end of the first week, so I’m thinking, you know, locker trouble, who knows, it’s junior high.”

MacDonald said she made eye contact with the boy and told him where his new seat was. Andrews slammed a green folder and a Chromebook case on a desk, pulled a gun and pointed it directly at her.

Andrews then said, “I need everybody to get down,” she testified.

Everyone in the classroom was frozen, she said. MacDonald tried to get Spring’s attention.

“I figured if he were to start shooting and we were to protect the students, I wanted her to be facing it,” she said. “I didn’t want her to get shot (from) behind and not know what had happened.

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“I had a moment where I accepted the fact that I was going to die,” she said. “So I thought about how I was never going to have my own classroom … I was never going to be a wife, be a mom. I just started to think of the last things I said to my family.”

One student testified he heard a “click” when Andrews pointed the gun at Spring. He said Andrews played with the slide of the pistol, then he heard another click.

Another student, a 13-year-old girl, testified she also heard a click and thought it was the safety on the gun.

When questioned by defense attorney Meenakshi Brandt, students said no one was yelling or screaming during the incident.

Brandt said in her opening statement Thursday that while the boy made a horrible choice in bringing a gun to school, he did not intend to kill anyone. Rather, he was seeking attention.

Spring ushered Andrew out of the classroom that day and walked with him down the hallway, keeping him at her side.

She said she asked him about why he was upset, and asked if it had anything to do with school or home. The boy said home was “really, really bad.”

Andrews had the gun off to the side, but Spring said she did not feel threatened by it then. She said she tried to empathize and told the boy there were people at school who could help.

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Spring said she stopped at the guidance counselor’s office and asked to see counselor Holly Leinhauser, telling secretary Monyka Leitzen that she had a student who was upset about something happening at home.

Leinhauser came out into the hallway, where Andrews had slumped to the floor. Spring said he pointed the gun at his own head. That’s when Leinhauser went for it.

The three struggled before Leinhauser eventually wrestled it away.

Spring said she took the gun and placed it inside the freezer in the teacher work room area.

Leinhauser testified Thursday that when she asked Andrews what his intention was that day, the boy replied that he wanted to end it and anyone who got in his way.

Spring went back to her classroom to let the students know the gun was secure and Andrews was in the guidance counselor’s office.

MacDonald had told the students to stand on the far side of the room away from the door. She said some students were crying and having anxiety attacks. One kept doing the sign of the cross over and over again.

A friend and classmate of Andrews testified Friday that the morning of Aug. 31, Andrews showed him a gun in his book bag and told him not to tell anyone.

The boy testified that he told Andrews not to do anything stupid and to keep it in the bag.

“He said he would do nothing with the gun and he was OK about it,” the boy said.

Joshua Tipsword, network specialist for the North Scott School District, testified that he examined Andrews’ school Chromebook account after the incident.

In one message on Aug. 29, Andrews wrote to a friend, “hear ye, hear ye, dankest of memes. I have a gun you will see soon.”

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The next day, he wrote on a classmate’s online presentation, “10/10 there is a surprise tomorrow.”

Davenport Police Cpl. Richard Nahnybida, a forensic computer expert, testified he examined a desktop computer seized from Andrews’ home.

In the internet search history, he found “how do guns work” and “where is a pistols safety” on Aug. 30.

Nahnybida said the only user-created account on the computer was Andrews’.

Seventh Judicial District Chief Judge Marlita Greve told jurors that the evidence portion of the trial is expected to be completed Monday.

If convicted, Andrews will be sentenced and will remain under the supervision of the Juvenile Court until just before he turns 18. At that time, the case is remanded back to adult court, where a judge determines whether to impose a prison sentence or discharge him, among other options.

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