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Student talks about teacher shooting

"I wasn't thinking clearly," says the boy, 13, of the fatal shooting.

Nathaniel Brazill, 13, charged in the fatal shooting of his English teacher on the last day of classes this spring, said he "wasn't thinking clearly" when he returned to school with a gun after being sent home for misbehaving, a newspaper reported.

Brazill, an honor student with ambitions of becoming a Secret Service agent for the president, said he was upset over his suspension for throwing water balloons, a punishment that meant he would have to stay home from school for the first 10 days of the next school year.

"I didn't want to leave school early," Brazill said in his first interview since the May 26 shooting. His comments were published Monday in the Miami Herald after a 1{-hour telephone interview from the Palm Beach County Jail over the weekend. "I thought I'd never catch up at the beginning of the next year. All of my friends would leave me behind. I thought my future was ruined."

Brazill is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Barry Grunow, 35, who he said was his favorite teacher. He faces life in prison if convicted.

According to police, Brazill went home, retrieved a .25-caliber semiautomatic pistol he had stolen from his grandfather's house and returned on his bike to Lake Worth Community Middle School, where he shot Grunow in the head.

"I wasn't thinking clearly when I took the gun to school on that day. I was too upset," Brazill told the Herald. "I can tell you I had the gun hidden in my dresser because I was going to ask my uncle in the Army to teach me how to use it for my future career in the military or law enforcement. . . . I don't know how or why it happened the way it did. Mr. Grunow was the best."

Brazill said he went to Grunow's classroom to talk to student Dinora Rosales, whom he liked. He had written her love letters and gave her flowers on the last day of class.

"I wanted to tell her to have a good summer and I'd miss her," he said.

But Grunow told Brazill he couldn't talk to Dinora. So the boy pulled the loaded gun out of his pocket and pointed it at the teacher. Brazill has said in a police confession that he didn't mean for the gun to go off.

"I smiled at Mr. Grunow and he smiled at me," Brazill told the Herald. "He pushed the gun away like he thought it was fake. It was kind of like a joke _ the kind of joke we always had between us. Then the gun went off. I don't know how it happened. I don't know how."