By several accounts, Thomas ``T.J.' Solomon Jr. was a low-key boy who didn't do anything outstanding or unusual during his 2 years in Kernersville.

He was polite, athletic and a Boy Scout. He hunted with his stepfather but didn't seem fascinated with guns or violence.Neighbors said Solomon never gave any signs that one day he would be accused of walking into his suburban Atlanta high school and shooting six classmates.

``There was never any hint whatsoever of any aggression or anything out of the ordinary in him,' said Randy McCaslin, Kernersville's town manager and Solomon's former next-door neighbor. ``This is just a total shock. I don't know that you can make sense of something like this.'

Georgia authorities were keeping Solomon, a 15-year-old sophomore, in a juvenile detention center after he was accused of using a rifle on Thursday to wound six fellow students at Heritage High School in Conyers, Ga. All the wounded are expected to survive.

Witnesses to the shooting said Solomon put a revolver in his mouth before surrendering in tears and saying, ``Oh my God, I'm so scared.' Friends said Solomon and his girlfriend had an argument the day before the shooting and may have ended their relationship. Investigators have not discussed a motive for the shootings.

The girlfriend was unhurt.

Police said on Friday that the guns used in the shooting had been taken from a locked gun cabinet in Solomon's home.

Solomon and his family moved to Georgia in late 1996 or early 1997 from Kernersville, where his stepfather, Robert Daniele, worked as a terminal manager for Allied Systems, a company that ships cars across the Southeast. Solomon had lived with his stepfather; his mother, Mae Dean Daniele; and his younger sister, Wendy, in a two-story brick home at 5961 Woodfield Drive in northwest Kernersville.

The 3,200-square-foot home, to which the family moved in 1994, is in the Deerfield subdivision, an upper-middle-class community full of large homes, neat lawns, woods and a few creeks. The family's former home is for sale again.

McCaslin described Solomon's family as polite and low-key. Robert Daniele was an avid outdoorsman, and Solomon had gone fishing and hunting with him, McCaslin said.

McCaslin played in a softball league with Robert Daniele. Solomon played with McCaslin's children, and he played baseball in a league sponsored by the local YMCA. Officials at the YMCA declined Friday to comment on Solomon

``You couldn't have asked for nicer neighbors,' McCaslin said. ``The kids were usually outside playing baseball or soccer or something in the yard.'

Solomon completed the sixth and seventh grades at Atkins Middle School in Winston-Salem, said Doug Hinson, director of public relations for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County public schools.

Records indicate Solomon was an eighth-grader when he withdrew from the school in January 1997 to move to Georgia, where his stepfather had been transferred.

A call to the middle school seeking information on Solomon was referred to Hinson.

``He was not a problem student,' Hinson said.

Hinson was unsure whether Solomon had participated in any sports or clubs at Atkins. His eighth-grade yearbook picture shows a smiling boy with medium-length brown hair.

Andy Wyant, 22, remembered playing pick-up basketball with Solomon and other neighborhood boys in nearby Fourth of July Park. Solomon would get in the usual squabbles that arise during games, but he never got too angry, said Wyant, who lived less than a block from Solomon.

Wyant considered Solomon a friend, and the two went to some parties together in houses in Greensboro and Winston-Salem, Wyant said. Wyant didn't recall Solomon ever talking about guns.

``He didn't seem like no shooter, not around here,' Wyant said. ``I guarantee you wouldn't think of this if you met him.'

Get today’s top stories right in your inbox. Sign up for our daily morning newsletter.

Load comments