“This sure beats algebra, doesn’t it?”
On February 2, 1996, the Frontier Middle School was devastated by a hostage-taking incident and shooting spree that occurred in an algebra class. It took the lives of three people (two students and a teacher) and resulted in the critical injury of one student. The person accused was a 14-year-old boy named Barry Dale Loukaitis, who was experiencing delusional and messianic thoughts before the shooting. Barry was dressed to look like a gunslinger from the Wild West in a black duster, and armed with a .30-30 caliber rifle, a .357 caliber pistol and a .25 caliber pistol that belonged to his father. The students were held hostage for 10 minutes before a gym coach tricked and outwitted the boy.
It was believed that, aside from a history of mental illness and dysfunctional issues in his family, Barry was influenced by Pearl Jam’s song and video “Jeremy.” The video shows a troubled youth committing suicide in front of his classmates and teacher. It was also reported that he said “This sure beats algebra, doesn’t it?” when he saw his classmates panic. This is a quote from a Stephen King novel, Rage, in which the protagonist kills two teachers and takes his algebra class hostage. Barry is currently serving two life sentences, with an additional 205 years in prison.