GLENDALE, AZ - The images of young children holding hands leaving Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut look eerily familiar to a Glendale scene from October 2000.
On October 24, 2000, an armed teenager briefly held a classroom full of children and a teacher hostage with a loaded gun at his former school, Pioneer Elementary
Sean Botkin, then 14 years old, ultimately surrendered without firing a shot. No one was hurt.
"He had his gun and told us all to get on the ground," Michael Zepeda, Jr., told KTAR-FM on Monday. "He wasn't yelling or anything, he was talking pretty quiet." Zepeda, now 25 years old and living in Hawaii, was inside that classroom.
Candace Briney was the teacher in the classroom and was honored as a hero immediately following the incident. On Monday, she told ABC15 that she immediately thought of the incident at Pioneer when she heard about Sandy Hook, but reiterated that the suspects in both cases had very different motives and intentions.
Botkin planned the standoff and took a loaded 9-millimeter handgun from his father as an attention-getting ploy, a police spokesman said after Botkin's arrest, but it could have easily become a tragedy.
"All that was required was the trigger being pulled," Glendale police spokesman Matt Brown said back in 2000. "That's why it was a volatile situation."
The standoff in the Peoria Unified School District classroom lasted about an hour.
There were as many as 30 people in the portable classroom when the teenager walked in. Most were gradually released, and one student and the teacher remained inside when he surrendered.