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Sad day to pass unnoted at school

But the 1988 shooting rampage will be long remembered by those at Pinellas Park High.

By Donna Winchester, Times Staff Writer
Published February 11, 2008

[Times (1998)]
Pinellas Park High School students walk into the school's media center where the portrait of Richard W. Allen hangs. Allen died six days after the Feb. 11, 1988 shooting of a gunshot wound to the head.

It's been 20 years since the sound of gunfire silenced lunchroom chatter and sent shock waves through Pinellas Park High School.

Just before noon on Feb. 11, 1988, a 15-year-old student armed with a stolen .38-caliber revolver opened fire in the cafeteria. Jason Harless shot two assistant principals and a student teacher, then turned the gun on police officers as he ran from the school.

The officers returned fire, wounding him in the shoulder. They arrested him along with another 15-year-old, Jason McCoy, who also had come to school that morning with a gun.

One of the administrators, 53-year-old Richard Allen, died six days later of a gunshot wound to the head.

The intervening years have not erased the emotional pain suffered by the handful of teachers who still work at the school, first-year principal John Johnston said Friday. And so they have opted to forgo any type of ceremony to mark the tragedy.

"It was a very emotional time for them," Johnston said. "They would prefer to have it go forward as a regular day."

McCoy was released from jail after serving 14 months of a six-year sentence. Harless was released in 1996 after serving eight years of a 17-year sentence.

[Last modified February 10, 2008, 23:18:12]

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