Thursday, May 6, 1999 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Student Commits Suicide A Day After Honors Speech

Newhouse News Service

BAY MINETTE, Ala. - A student committed suicide at a school here yesterday, one day after encouraging classmates at a National Honor Society banquet to believe in themselves and accomplish their goals.

At the banquet Tuesday for Baldwin County High School's honor society, Brad Michael Gray gave an impromptu, five-minute speech in which he also thanked those who supported him during a struggle with a heart problem. The emotional speech drew a long standing ovation.

Yesterday, Gray, a contender to be valedictorian, was seen carrying a gun through the parking lot to a nearby soccer field.

As his mother, Principal Mike Duck and Assistant Principal Ron Rieben tried to talk to Gray, school officials - aware of heightened tensions since the Littleton, Colo., shootings - rushed other students out of the way and locked down the school.

Despite pleas from his mother and the two school administrators, Gray later shot himself.

"This was a highly intelligent but very troubled young man who had been having problems coping with his personal problems," Bay Minette Police Chief Bruce Lovett said. "He came from a good family. There doesn't appear to be any indication that there was any contributing factors other than just his inability to cope with life itself."

Gray, a senior, had missed the past several weeks of school with a serious heart ailment, although he had maintained his high grade-point average by doing work at home, school officials said. He would have graduated with his class May 18.

Yesterday, his mother had taken him to the school to pick up some class assignments. While she went to the office, he went to the school cafeteria to talk to friends.

Several minutes later, Gray's mother, Duck and Rieben found Gray on the soccer field, pointing a .38-caliber pistol at himself.

Gray never threatened anyone or pointed the gun at anyone other than himself, Schools Superintendent Albert Thomas said. School and police officials said there is no reason to believe that the incident was related to the Colorado shootings or other school violence.

Copyright (c) 1999 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.


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