The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

National and world

August 21, 2013

Details emerge about Ga. school shooting suspect

LITHONIA, Ga. — A man who allegedly exchanged gunfire with police at an Atlanta-area school didn't seem to have any friends and rarely talked about his family or past during the months he lived with a couple who serve as pastors at a small church.

But Michael Brandon Hill was quiet and didn't display anger or violent tendencies, said Natasha Knotts, the woman who took him in after he started coming to the small church where her husband is pastor and she is an assistant pastor. No one was injured in Tuesday's standoff, bringing relief to parents who had feared the worst after reports of the gunfire began surfacing.

The DeKalb County Public Defender's office said in a statement that it was representing Hill and that he has "a long history of mental health issues." One of the office's attorneys, Claudia Saari, said in an email that a preliminary hearing is scheduled for Sept. 5.

Knotts told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Hill, who is now 20, lived with them for about six months in his late teens. Though there is no blood or legal connection between them, Knotts said she served as a mother-like figure to Hill.

"He was part of our family," Knotts said. Her family was aware that "he had a mental disorder" before he moved in.

Hill told her that his birth mother was dead and that he didn't know his father. He also has brothers.

Police gave more details on Wednesday about the previous day's ordeal and what led up to it. Before going to the school, investigators say that Hill took a photo of himself with an assault rifle and packed up nearly 500 rounds of ammunition — enough to shoot more than half of the school's students.

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