Shooting victim's family seeks forced answers from school district

Shooting victim's family seeks forced answers from school district »Play Video
Leah Cleveland, mother of Taft school shooting victim Bowe Cleveland, and her attorney Daniel Rodriguez say Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013, that they are filing a tort claim against the Taft Union High School District, seeking information the district claims is confidential and protected. Specifically, they want a judge to force the district to address claims that the alleged shooter had compiled a widely rumored hit list of classmates he wished to harm.

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — The attorney representing the Taft student wounded in a classroom shooting wants answers from the school district.

Attorney Daniel Rodriguez is filing a tort claim against the Taft Union High School District, seeking information the district claims is confidential and protected.

Specifically, Rodriguez wants a judge to force the district to address claims that the alleged shooter had compiled a widely rumored hit list of classmates he wished to harm.

Bryan Oliver, 16, is accused of hauling a shotgun into a Taft Union High School science class Jan. 10 and shooting 16-year-old classmate Bowe Cleveland. Rodriguez is representing Cleveland's family.

Cleveland was shot in the chest and is still recovering in a Bakersfield hospital. His mother says the teenager remembers everything that happened. "He wants you to know what he remembers," Leah Cleveland told Eyewitness News Wednesday morning.

Investigators say Oliver barged into the first-period science class late, and called out for the two students he allegedly wanted to target. The mother says Cleveland stood up between the desks.

"Standing up is probably what saved his life," Leah Cleveland said. "Because of the position he was in, because the bullet then went 'woosh' at that angle." The mom says her son was shot in the chest, and ended up with lead shot gun pellets in his lungs.

"He grabbed his chest and he said, 'You got me.' And then he collapsed," the mother said. She believes her son was bleeding from the mouth, and he says Oliver then approached him.

"He walked up to Bowe, looked at Bowe, started laughing -- and I believe, started putting more bullets in his gun," Leah Cleveland said.

Investigators have reported more shots were fired, but didn't hit anyone. Then the teacher and a campus supervisor distracted Oliver and convinced him to put down the shotgun.

Cleveland says her son has good days, and some days with difficulties. She says Bowe is expected to regain mobility, but she's also worried about his mental state. "Now we're dealing with the emotional trauma," she said.

The mother reports her son was in a coma for over two weeks, and after that he was afraid when people came into his room. "Initially he was absolutely terrified that this kid was coming after him and going to kill him this time," Cleveland said.

She's been at her son's side at the hospital, and the ordeal has affected the whole family.

"Not being able to fix what was broken, not being able to put a Band-Aid on it, not being able to tell him it's OK, that has been the worst for me," Leah Cleveland said with emotion. "I never in a million years thought I would be looking at my son lying there in a coma."

The mother says the family is reaching out for help, and asking for answers. "My son took a bullet, and I don't want him to take it in vain," she said. "I want changes." That's why the family is starting the legal action to get more answers from school officials.

The student accused in the shooting remains jailed, charged as an adult.

Bryan Oliver faces five charges, including two counts of attempted murder. Court reports show Oliver told officers he fired the gun at Cleveland and another student  because they "annoyed" and "bullied" them.

Law enforcement officials have referenced that allegation but haven't confirmed that bullying took place.