One of the girls was athletic and outgoing, the captain of cheerleaders at Bishop Neumann High School, a member of the soccer and basketball squads and a skilled baton twirler. She recently won a local audition to model and looked forward to a second round of competition in Washington next month.
The other eighth-grade girl was quiet and shy, eager for wider friendship at Bishop Neumann and apparently despondent.
Their discordant paths converged in violence in the lunch hour Wednesday in the school cafeteria when the second girl shot her schoolmate once in the back of the right shoulder, the police said. As dozens of students dived to the floor or tipped over tables to shield themselves, the girl waved a nine-shot, .22-caliber pistol around and talked of committing suicide, said Brent Paucke, a ninth grader who persuaded her to drop the weapon.
The police said today the weapon was registered to the girl's father.
The victim, Kimberly Marchese, 13, was recovering today in satisfactory condition, at the Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, about 30 miles from here. The other girl, 14, remained in juvenile detention.
Her lawyer described her as tormented by name-calling from students, a girl who had posters of Christ and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on her wall, identified with the underdog and enjoyed biographies of Harriet Tubman.
Ms. Marchese's father, Michael, a 66-year-old retired Williamsport firefighter, spent the night in the hospital with her. When Mr. Marchese returned home this morning for a change of clothes, he scoffed at published reports here that his daughter was among students who had harassed the girl who is in custody. ''There was nothing between them,'' he said. ''I don't know where they got that story.''
The girl's lawyer, George E. Lepley, disagreed. ''All the information seems to indicate Kim was teasing her,'' Mr. Lepley said. He said his client had recently written Ms. Marchese an e-mail message on her home computer, which he said the police seized Wednesday, asking Ms. Marchese to become friends with her. He said he did not know if Ms. Marchese had replied.
Mr. Lepley said his client transferred to Bishop Neumann early last year because students at a junior high in her hometown, Jersey Shore, about 15 miles from Williamsport, often threw stones at her or called her ''vicious names.''
Her first weeks at her new school were peaceful, he said. ''But eventually some kids starting mocking her and calling her derogatory names'' like ''psycho'' and ''weirdo.''
''She has a tendency to befriend the underdog -- handicapped students and minorities,'' Mr. Lepley said. ''Some of her closest friends were in that category.''
The Lycoming County District Attorney, Thomas Marino, is considering whether to try her as a juvenile or an adult. Mr. Marchese said he opposed adult charges. ''If she's tried like an adult, what's that going to do to her down the end,'' he said. ''You know, she's got to live with this thing the rest of her life.''
The decision hinges largely on a psychological evaluation of the girl and doctors' description of the bullet's path, Mr. Marino said. ''That's going to be important,'' he said. ''Forensically, that'll determine whether the gun was pointed.''
Accounts by witnesses conflicted, he said. Some students said the gun was pointed directly at Ms. Marchese. Others said the shot was fired toward the floor and ricocheted. The authorities declined today to talk about a motive. ''Explaining why this happened would be purely speculative,'' the police statement said.
Mr. Marino said he did not know of any
grudges or animosity between the girls. ''But obviously there was
something there,'' he said. ''I don't think she brought a gun to school
to show off. '' He called the girl in custody ''extremely remorseful