The Cleveland Plain Dealer traces the legal and mental health problems of Asa Coon, the Cleveland student who shot four people and killed himself in the city’s SuccessTech Academy yesterday. Coon always seemed to be in fights at school, slapped around his mother, and talked about suicide. What apparently pushed Asa’s troubled young mind over the edge was an argument with classmates about the existence of God. “He’s a very hyper kid,” said Rachel Metzger, who lives near the Coons. “He’s constantly yelling at his mom or anybody else. He’s pretty violent.”
Coon was charged with domestic violence at age 12. A magistrate ordered him to undergo psychological testing and follow the orders of doctors. He immediately refused to obey probation rules. He threw the paperwork on the floor and charged out of the office, nearly knocking his mother to the ground. While waiting for a spot to open at a rehabiliation center, he was placed in an interim shelter care facility, where he tried to kill himself. Last November, he completed counseling, anger management classes, and community service. After five months without incident, he was released from probation. Nobody denied that Coon was smart. His friends say he liked to talk about the space program, the FBI, and global warming. Some called him a genius.