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FAMILY, FRIENDS STRUGGLE WITH THE `WHY' OF TRAGEDY

Justin Allgood's family isn't alone as it struggles with why a seemingly normal, happy teenager would shoot a bus driver, hijack the bus and then kill himself.

Friends, neighbors, classmates and even police are baffled at what transpired Tuesday morning in the Oquirrh and Taylorsville neighborhoods.About 7:20 a.m. Tuesday, Allgood and several other students waited at a bus stop in the Oquirrh Shadows subdivision. He wore a straw cowboy hat for Bingham Middle School's Spirit Week celebration and carried a small gym bag.

When the bus stopped, he got on, pulled out a .357 Magnum and ordered driver Sula Bearden off the school bus. Teens entering the bus behind Allgood said he waved the gun around and told the woman to give up the bus. She told him to put down the gun and reached for the bus's two-way radio.

He shot her in the leg.

Bearden told Jordan School District officials the boy said something like, "Next time I tell you to get off the bus, get off the bus."

Bearden limped to the door, where another student helped her off the bus. The 15-year-old Allgood then strapped on a seat belt and sped away. As he drove by the route's second bus stop a few blocks away, another group of students saw him wave.

"He was driving by waving a gun," said Katrina Barton, 13.

Allgood didn't make it out of the subdivision before Salt Lake County sheriff's deputies - alerted of the shooting by a 911 call - spotted him.

They tried to pull him over without success. Deputies chased the bus for about 30 blocks through rush-hour traffic at speeds as high as 70 mph.

The chase ended with a spectacular crash into a house at 6035 S. 2200 West, nestled at the northernmost tip of a dead-end street. Only about half of the 50-foot bus remained outside the two-story brick house, owned by Richard Johnson.

The bus may have been traveling between 50 to 60 mph when it struck concrete barriers, then continued through metal gates, a ditch and pine trees before striking the home.

It would be hours before deputies would discover the boy already dead inside the bus. He apparently killed himself sometime before the crash with a single gunshot into his mouth.

What makes Tuesday's tragedy even harder for most to grasp is that he appeared as normal as any other teenager. Friends called him "Bug" (although, no one seems to remember why) and said he was as unlikely to do this as anyone.

"Everyone's surprised he would do this. He acted happy all the time," said Becky Broadhead, 15, who rides the bus and saw the shooting.

With no criminal history to draw on, police and others are looking at other explanations for Allgood's behavior. Those who knew him said he wasn't a troublemaker - just a regular 15-year-old boy who loved to play basketball and football.

What police do know is that he struggled recently with the death of a classmate and he apparently hadn't gotten over the death of another friend five months ago.

William Rowell, 14, was killed in an accident on Sunday near Lehi when the jeep he was riding in missed a corner and rolled. Rowell was crushed underneath the vehicle's rollbar.

Utah County deputy sheriffs are continuing their investigation into the accident and are still evaluating whether citations or charges against any of the seven survivors may be forthcoming.

Another classmate, Jason Collier, 14, died in a crash in December.

Allgood was carrying the obituaries of both boys in his wallet when he died, said Salt Lake County Sheriff's Sgt. Jim Potter. Another ninth-grader the Deseret News spoke with Tuesday was also carrying the boys' obituaries. She said she got them at school, where they had been made available to students.

Bingham Middle School Principal Al Zylstra said the school was already struggling to cope with Rowell's death when they heard about Allgood.

"This wouldn't have been a normal day anyway," he said. The ninth-graders gathered for an assembly shortly after Allgood's death was announced on television.

"They talked about life and death and sorrow," Zylstra said. Doctor Z, as the students call him, is worried about the welfare of students in the wake of two tragedies so close together.

"Middle high school kids are so vulnerable anyway," he said. "But I couldn't be prouder of the kids and the way they've handled it."

After school, some of the students got upset at the media attention and yelled at photographers to "just leave us alone."

About 90 bus drivers from the Jordan School District met last night to air their concerns about the incident. Ronald Sing, the district's director of transportation, said a crisis team and a crisis helpline are available to drivers who have a hard time dealing with the shooting of one of their own.

An ongoing education program for emergency response will continue, Sing said.

"(Bearden) was a prime example of what you should do. She handled everything by the book," Sing said.

Bearden, 37, remained hospitalized Wednesday but was reported to be in "very good condition." Jordan Valley Hospital officials said she would likely be released late Wednesday.

Bearden has declined interviews but issued a brief statement Wednesday, saying: "My heart goes out to the parents and how terrifying this must be for them."

Neighborhood teens said All-good acted normal as he waited for the bus Tuesday.

"He was really nice; nice to everybody," said Jennifer Dalton, who would have been at the bus stop had it not been for an orthodontist appointment. "He was just everyone's friend."

"The kids seem to be real close out here," said Susan Hicks, who lives just around the corner and heard the gunshot. "We just thank God he didn't put the kids on the bus. . . . It's sad when something like this happens to a normal boy."