“This sure beats the hell out of algebra, doesn’t it?”
On February 2, 1996, a 14-year-old boy named Barry Loukaitis entered Frontier Middle School in Moses Lake, Washington and killed his algebra teacher and two students. Loukaitis was dressed in a wild west-style gunslinger outfit and had a black duster on. He was armed with a hunting rifle and two handguns. Upon entering the classroom, Loukaitis attacked the students in a fit of rage and quoted: “This sure beats the hell out of algebra, doesn’t it?” The quote came from a Stephen King novel titled Rage.
Rage is a book published by King in 1977 under the pseudonym Richard Bachman. It tells the story of a student who undergoes a school shooting and kills his algebra teacher. The book has been linked with four specific shooting events, including the Frontier massacre. For this reason, Stephen King insisted that the book be taken out of print. It should be mentioned that the quote used by Loukaitis doesn’t appear word-for-word in King’s story. The closest resemblance is when Charlie Decker says, “This sure beats panty raids.”
During the rampage killing, Loukaitis held the students hostage for ten minutes before a gym coach named Jon Lane came in the room and wrestled him to the ground. At his trial the defense attacked the media, specifically Pearl Jam’s video Jeremy, the films Natural Born Killers and Basketball Diaries, and Rage. They argued the fact that Loukaitis was on Ritalin at the time of the murder spree. In court, Loukaitis stated that he attempted to model his life after Rage’s protagonist Charlie Decker. Despite his young age, Loukaitis was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.