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Michael Jackson visits site of school shooting

STOCKTON, Calif. -- Pop singer Michael Jackson handed out audio cassettes and T-shirts Tuesday to youngsters at the elementary school where five children were killed by a man with an assault rifle Jan. 17.

School district officials attempted to discourage onlookers at Cleveland Elementary School, but a crowd of several hundred people gathered by noon.

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Upon his arrival, bodyguards quickly hustled the entertainer from his car in the parking lot into Cleveland Elementary School. Inside, he spoke with many of the school's more than 900 pupils and handed out gifts.

Jackson's assistants said his visit to the school was his way of showing concern about the impact of the playground massacre upon its students, many of them Southeast Asian refugees.

Twenty-nine children and a teacher were wounded and five youngsters, aged 6 to 9, were killed by bullets from a magazine-fed AKM-47 assault rifle fired on the playground by Patrick Purdy, who then took his own life.

Some 50 police officers tried to control the crowd of people - children as well as adults -- who flocked to see Jackson. The excited throng was unruly enough that school administrators had to appeal for quiet.

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Jackson also planned a visit to a nearby hospital where some of the wounded children were recovering.

'Having someone like this come and visit them will be remembered for a long time,' said Dr. Patricia Dixon, a hospital pediatrician.

The Stockton City Council approved an ordinance Monday night to ban a variety of semiautomatic weapons in the city. A court challenge is likely, however, since less restrictive state law may take precedence.

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