ST. CLOUD -- A ventilator breathes for Seth Bartell. Nurses sit by his side day and night, monitoring the effects of the bullet that struck him in the forehead and lodged at the back of his brain.
A doctor for the 14-year-old said it's "remarkable" that he's alive at all after the shootings at Rocori High School earlier this week that killed Aaron Rollins, a 17-year-old senior.
While Bartell lay sedated at St. Cloud Hospital on Friday, the state Attorney General's office filed a second-degree murder charge against 15-year-old Jason McLaughlin, according to the boy's attorney, Dan Eller. The boy's appearance in juvenile court on Friday was closed because of his age.
Eller said prosecutors filed papers seeking to move the case to adult court, which Eller said he would oppose. Eller said McLaughlin faced other charges, but he did not detail them. A spokeswoman for the attorney general's office said because of McLaughlin's age she could not confirm the charges or the move to try McLaughlin as an adult. His next court date has not been set.
Eller said McLaughlin has been "overwhelmed" by the ramifications of the shootings. "It's just difficult for him to understand how it happened," Eller said.
McLaughlin is the son of David and Mary McLaughlin; David McLaughlin is a Stearns County sheriff's deputy and leader of the Central Minnesota Drug Task Force. In a statement issued through Eller, the McLaughlins offered "our deepest sympathy to everyone involved in this terrible tragedy."
"The devastation that has been caused is irreparable," they said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with Seth's family and Aaron's family. The support shown by the community has been overwhelming. Although there are no answers, we ask that you continue to pray for Aaron, Seth and Jason."
McLaughlin's parents are "as crushed about this as anybody else," Eller said.
The Bartells also issued a statement, expressing thanks for community support and also sympathy for the McLaughlins: "We are so sorry for all they have gone through."
A stuffed bear riding a tree swing makes a cheerful sight at the start of the hallway near Bartell's room in the pediatric intensive care unit. Inside, his bed props him up to help keep the swelling in his skull down, said Dr. Dan Whitlock, who spoke on behalf of the Bartells. A catheter in his head monitors the swelling caused by the wound.
He has been able to move his arms and legs, but remains sedated, said Bartell's doctor, Patricia Scherrer. She said the boy has a severe head and brain injury "that has threatened his life and creates concerns for his future." She said it's too soon to predict how much damage the bullet did, or how long it might take him to recover.
Whitlock said the boy's family is in great pain.
"At the same time, they are encouraged by Seth's strong will to live," Whitlock said.
Friday morning, students in Cold Spring returned to Rocori for classes for the first time since the shootings. Dozens of adults lined the long sidewalk leading into the high school and applauded.
"They're trying to reach out to the kids," Ryan Gort, 34, of Cold Spring, said of the more than 70 adults who stood with him about 7:30 a.m. "We missed one and we don't want to miss any more."
The students filed past a banner by the front door of the school, on which someone had written in black letters, "Aaron we'll miss you." Flowers stood at its base. A photo of each of the victims was attached to posterboard and sat nearby.
Several students said they appreciated the show of support and unity.
"I think we are coming closer together," said Elizabeth Kinzer, 17, a senior from Rockville. "I think the picking on people will stop and I think we'll all become closer."
Brent Gregory, 17, a senior from Richmond, agreed.
"This is just what the community needed," he said. "Our class needed to pull together. They always say that God has a plan for everything. I think this was it -- to pull everybody together."
Gov. Tim Pawlenty ordered Minnesota flags to be flown at half staff at schools Monday and asked schools to observe a moment of silence.
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