Pa. Shooting Called A Cry For Help

The bullet wound in her shoulder is starting to heal, but for 13-year-old Kimberly Marchese, the emotional healing cannot begin until she knows why her schoolmate pulled the trigger.

"I just want to ask her why she did it, if I was the target or not," Marchese said today on ABCNEWS' Good Morning America. "I know she sometimes says stuff and then she'll regret it, and I think that's just what happened to her at the shooting."

Elizabeth Bush, 14, an eighth-grader, is accused of going into the crowded cafeteria at Bishop Neumann Junior-Senior High School and firing a gun on Wednesday. Marchese was hit once in the shoulder, though it is not clear whether the suspect was firing at her or whether the bullet ricocheted off a wall or the floor and hit her.

Police have said they believe that the shooting was a result of a feud between the two girls, but Marchese today added her voice to those of other students and school officials who have disputed the claim.

"I haven't talked to Elizabeth Bush for about a week or two," the 13-year-old said. "And there was no argument before the shooting whatsoever and she was not behind me when she shot me in the shoulder. I did not know she was there, and then she was about 15 or 20 feet to the right of me and that's when I saw her."

The shooting came two days after two people were killed and 13 wounded in a high school shooting in Santee, Calif. A ninth-grader is under arrest in that case and is being charged as an adult.

Prosecutors in Williamsport have not decided whether to prosecute Bush as an adult, but Marchese's father says he believes that would be wrong. The retired firefighter said that carrying the weight of the shooting for the rest of her life is enough punishment, on top of whatever penalty she might face if convicted as a juvenile.

A Kind Heart

The suspect's parents told The Harrisburg Patriot-News that Elizabeth had been the victim of harassment at other schools she attended, and that though she was accepted at Bishop Neumann at first, recently the insults and teasing had started again.

"She has a kind heart," the girl's mother told the newspaper. "She is always someone who is for the underdog. At one school she was a friend of a girl who was in a wheelchair. She used to help her. If anybody is being picked on or there is a problem, she is usually right there to try to defend that person."

Catherine Bush said her daughter, who hoped to become a human rights activist, was called a homosexual and "vicious, vicious names" while she was attending public school before transferring to the Catholic school last year.

"She was being told to get out of town or school or something would happen to her or her family," Catherine Bush said. "Stones would be thrown at her after school on occasion."

She was picked on so much at the public school, according to her lawyer, that she started skipping school, until the administration threatened legal action if she did not begin attending more regularly.

Suicide Attempts?

Though the suspect's lawyer, Gerald Lepley Jr., said that police believe Marchese was one of the children who taunted Bush at Bishop Neumann, the wounded girl expressed sympathy for her alleged assailant today.

"I knew Elizabeth Bush I think a little bit more than other people did," she said. "When she came to the school last year, I didn't really know her that much, but then as the year went on I got to know her. She was the kind of girl that was quiet, but I know she had a lot of problems with herself and her family.

"She wasn't in the best health mentally, but I know she used to cut her wrists last year, but she got help with that," Marchese added. "She used to tell me she used to be able to talk to God, but she told me she doesn't hear him anymore."

Marchese and other students agreed with the account of the incident given by Brent Paucke, a friend of Elizabeth Bush who talked her into putting down the gun. Both said she talked about killing herself as she paced the cafeteria after the shooting, while other students crouched under tables and lay on the floor.

"I think it was a cry for help and she never was doing it to hurt anyone, to aim at anyone," fellow student Elizabeth Adzema said. "It was just to get everyone to know that she needed help."

ABCNEWS' Bill Redeker and ABCNEWS.com's Dean Schabner contributed to this report.

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