About three weeks before 13-year-old Kenny Stoltman hauled homemade firebombs to Carwise Middle School and attacked the school resource officer with a knife, he had a heart-to-heart with one of his teachers, according to investigators.
In more than 950 pages of court documents released to the St. Petersburg Times on Friday, the teacher tells investigators that Stoltman told him he hated school because he hated math. He seemed filled with dread about the upcoming Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.
"He became extremely emotional, started crying … he started huffing and puffing and (became) very distressed," the teacher told detectives.
When a detective asked why Stoltman seemed so upset, the teacher replied: "Stress, school stress."
Stoltman also told the teacher he was being bullied, and they talked about why kids made fun of him when he wore his Boy Scout uniform to school.
But Carwise Middle administrators said neither Stoltman nor that teacher ever reported he was being bullied. He didn't tell his grandmother or his older sister, investigators said, until after the April 5 incident. Fellow students said they never saw anything more serious than teasing that all kids experience.
The documents indicate that at least three students told investigators Stoltman was bullied. One said kids called him "gay" for wearing his uniform to school. Another said some kids threw Stoltman's backpack into a pile of dog excrement one day. And a third said kids in his chorus class would flick his ears and kick the back of his chair.
A substitute teacher said she had seen students laughing at Stoltman when he wore his Boy Scout uniform, but she said she did not report it because it did not seem to rise to the level of bullying.
Stoltman's attorney, Barry Cohen, has said his client was reacting to being bullied and took the gasoline to Carwise only to scare his tormentors.
After the attack, Stoltman named at least two boys that he said wanted to scare, according to a detective.
Photos from the scene, also released Friday by the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office, show 11 glass bottles with wicks protruding from their necks in the middle stall of the boys' bathroom at Carwise. A lighter and a gasoline can are seen nearby. An investigator said a bottle label found in the area appeared singed.
The school resource officer, Kenneth Fridlund, told detectives that Stoltman lured him into the bathroom, saying something like "Officer, officer, come here. I got something to show you."
The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office says Stoltman then turned toward Fridlund and viciously attacked him, thrusting a 3.5-inch blade into his stomach all the way up to the hilt of the knife.
Wounded and bleeding on the floor, Fridlund held onto the seventh-grader as the boy stabbed him twice more — once in the shoulder and once in the arm — and struggled violently to take control of the officer's gun, authorities said.
"He gets his hand on my gun and … he was trying to rip the gun right out of my holster," Fridlund told detectives.
Fridlund knocked the knife away, held fast to his firearm, unleashed pepper spray and, finally, handed his handcuffs to a maintenance worker, all while holding on to the boy.
Authorities have called Fridlund a hero and said he may have spared the staff and about 1,300 students from a disaster.
The documents also detail the heroics of school employees who ran to Fridlund's aid — a teacher who put the student in a choke hold, a school nurse who worked to ease the bleeding from Fridlund's wounds before paramedics arrived, and the school maintenance employee who handcuffed Stoltman. Witnesses said Fridlund remained calm throughout.
Carwise principal Garrison Linder can be heard on a 911 call describing Fridlund's wounds and relaying information to the school nurse.
"He's bleeding profusely," Linder tells the dispatcher.
In the background, a wailing sound can be heard. Witnesses reported Stoltman was crying hysterically, hyperventilating. They said he said things like "I want out of this nightmare" and "Just kill me" after he was subdued. A deputy said he made suicidal statements.
Fridlund, who spent nearly 30 years as a St. Petersburg police officer before he joined the school district's police department, suffered internal bleeding but survived after he was rushed into emergency surgery at St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa.
Other details that emerged from the documents:
• Two students said Stoltman had asked for their names and written them down in a notebook the day before the attack. The first said Stoltman laughed when the boy asked him why he wanted his name. The other said he found the request odd, so he gave Stoltman a false name.
• A photograph of a page from one of Stoltman's notebooks shows a list of 10 names, but the purpose of the list is not clear. Virtually all of Stoltman's 50-page interview with detectives was blacked out in the documents.
• Drawings of tanks and war scenes, some depicting Nazi symbols, also were found in a notebook.
• Several teachers said Stoltman was an ideal student: polite, respectful and hard working.
Stoltman was taken to a mental health facility after the incident and was released to the Sheriff's Office on April 15. He was charged as a juvenile with attempted murder and 11 counts of possession/manufacturing of firebombs.
Rita Farlow can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4157. Times staff writer Drew Harwell and photojournalist Douglas R. Clifford contributed to this report.