On February 23, 2010 at Deer Creek Middle School, a facility just a short drive from Columbine High School, Bruco Eastwood lifted a rifle and opened fire on students, seriously wounding two of them. But a jury has found him innocent of all charges other than possessing a weapon on school grounds. Why? Insanity.
Eastwood has a history of mental problems. After an arrest in 2002, for example, he was placed on a mental health hold because he thought voices were coming from a Nielsen ratings box attached to his television -- and he continued to hear such voices in the years that followed. He was also reportedly afraid imaginary creatures were stealing food from his stomach.
Against this backdrop, Eastwood left the Hudson home he shared with his dad around midday on February 23, armed with a loaded hunting rifle he took from his father's closet. After stops at Dick's Sporting Goods to buy more ammo and lunch at a McDonald's, he arrived at Deer Creek and parked in a lot across the street from the school. A custodian saw him there and encouraged him to check in at the office, which he did, obtaining a visitor's badge. When the school bell rang at 3:05 p.m., kids began exiting the school. Eastwood soon approached a group of girls and asked if they went to school there. After one answered in the affirmative, he revealed his rifle and fired a shot, striking Reagan Weber in the arm.
As the girls ran, Eastwood reloaded and squeezed off another shot, this time hitting Matt Thieu, who suffered a punctured lung and broken ribs. But before any more children were injured, Dr. David Benke, a math teacher at Deer Creek, tackled Eastwood and held him down until authorities arrived.
While in custody, Eastwood exhibited plenty of bizarre behavior -- like picking at his skin in an attempt to remove the "transforming forces" from his body. But he also told officers that he'd attended Deer Creek for a time back in 1991, after his parents were divorced, and felt ostracized and bullied by "rich kids."
Eastwood entered a not-guilty-by-insanity plea the following July, and doctors diagnosed him as a schizophrenic whose actions were dictated by delusions and audio hallucinations -- those voices. And while prosecutors made it clear they thought Eastwood had acted deliberately on that February day, the jury disagreed. He's now expected to remain at a state mental institution until such time as he's deemed sane.
If ever. Look below to see a larger version of Eastwood's mug shot.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.