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Students mourn Neb. school administrator slain by teen

Pallbearers carried a casket containing the body of Millard South High School assistant principal Vicki Kaspar yesterday at St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church in Omaha. Pallbearers carried a casket containing the body of Millard South High School assistant principal Vicki Kaspar yesterday at St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church in Omaha. (Dave Weaver/ Associated Press)
Associated Press / January 12, 2011

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OMAHA — Some students wiped away tears and many wore ribbons in their high school colors as they quietly filed from a fleet of yellow school buses to attend the funeral yesterday of their assistant principal, who was gunned down in her office by a teenager she had suspended earlier that day.

Mourners overflowed the sanctuary, balcony, and prayer chapel at St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church in west Omaha to remember 58-year-old Vicki Kaspar. The administrator was fatally wounded last Wednesday by 17-year-old Robert Butler Jr., who later killed himself with the same handgun.

Hundreds of students from Millard South High School talked in low voices as they filed into bleachers and metal chairs set up in the church gymnasium, where they watched the service via video link. Many wore red, white, and blue ribbons, which have been selling for $1 to raise money for the families of Kaspar and principal Curtis Case, who was injured in the attack.

The school district canceled classes at the school yesterday to allow staffers and students to mourn.

The Rev. Mike Swanton encouraged Kaspar’s family to take comfort in the number of people sharing their pain.

“We don’t have to suffer Vicki’s death alone,’’ Swanton said.

Her death was hard to accept, he said, because Kaspar did so much for others.

“We are encouraged to remember her as a wife, mother, administrator, and friend, and then emulate her good qualities,’’ Swanton said.

Mourners exchanged hugs with their neighbors at Swanton’s urging. As the congregation sang “Amazing Grace,’’ the priest adorned the casket with incense. Kaspar’s three grown sons and other family members then walked the casket slowly from the church, and family and close friends left for a private burial. One son, Ron, is a chemistry teacher at Millard South.

Butler was suspended last Wednesday for driving on Millard South’s football field and track. Omaha police say he returned to the school later, taking with him his police detective father’s .40-caliber semiautomatic service weapon. Authorities say Butler gave no hint of his intentions before posting an ominous message on Facebook.

The boy shot Kaspar after a short conversation in her office, then Case as he came to investigate the commotion.

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