Science Class Shooting
Since the Columbine High School shooting on April 20, 1999, there have been 337 school shootings in the USA. That staggering number, albeit tragic, also has a ripple effect on the 311,000+ students who experienced the gun violence at school during those 337 horrific events.
I originally posted about this true-crime in April 2019. Continue reading for the crime summary, then an update on what’s happened since the shooting.
Science Class Shooting
In 2018, a 13-year-old boy stowed a .45 caliber handgun, a .22 caliber handgun, a silencer, and plenty of ammunition into his school backpack. After he finished a quiz in his second period science class, he asked to be excused from class early. The teacher gave him permission to leave. He retrieved his artillery from his backpack, reentered the classroom, and began shooting. He shot a classmate and the teacher, both survived.
Although he’d been shot multiple times, the teacher tackled the boy and held him down until the authorities arrived.
You may wonder how a 13-year-old got the weapons. His parents kept their weapons in a locked gun safe. When officers searched the home, they found the gun safe key was in the gun safe lock. The boy’s mother said the morning of the shooting had been a normal morning. Unbeknownst to his parents, the boy had been searching the internet using the following terms:
· Sandy Hook
· School shooting memes
· What was the largest mass shooting in America?
The day before the shooting, the boy posted a video showing two handguns, a silencer and said he planned to take other people’s lives and then his.
A psychological evaluation presented at trial stated the boy takes pleasure in violence against others and lacks empathy.
At a news conference, the town’s mayor said,
“You hear about these shootings around the country, you just never think it could happen in your town.”
Because of the shooter’s age, the prosecution prosecuted him in juvenile court. He pleaded guilty to attempted murdered. The judge sentenced him to serve time in a juvenile facility until he’s 18, then on probation. The state Department of Correction determined in which facility he’d serve out his sentence.
At the sentencing, the judge said,
“Nothing, absolutely nothing in your past, your upbringing, would make anyone think you were capable of this offense.”
What’s happened since the shooting
Six months after the shooting, the voters in the community approved a $50 million school referendum for the district with $1.75 million allocated for Safety and Security and $1.75 million for Mental Health.
The school district has implemented many improvements with the referendum money. Here’s the breakdown:
Would things have been different four years ago if these improvements had been in place? I considered all 68 line items and found three that might have prevented the school shooting in 2018.
1. Perhaps the knowledge that the school district has three safety dogs/handlers who can detect guns and narcotics may have been a deterrent, but they're covering ten schools and four specialized departments. Kids are smart. If the school uses a calendared screening schedule for the dogs—then no, the kids would learn the schedule.
2. Limited student access to hallways may have kept the student in the classroom rather than being given permission to leave after he’d finished his quiz—he would not have retrieved his weapons. Also, a possibility is that he may have instead retrieved his weapons during class change when students would fill the hallway.
3. Because the school implemented their Project Truth curriculum which includes gun safety education and specifically asks families to do their part by properly locking all weapons—and if his parents had kept the gun safe key someone secret, the young boy may not have been able to access the guns.
I found the following on School Safety in the current student handbook:
Student and staff safety is an everyday concern. Each school has reviewed school safety and emergency plans, and our crisis intervention teams can provide parents with advice from experts to assist in talking with children about national events and public safety concerns. Parent information on dealing with children’s concerns is available at each school office and through the counselor. If a local threat is perceived, the school district will work with state and local emergency response officials, per school emergency plans, to make sure students and staff are secure and safe.
This information feels like it speaks to the parents, not the students. Perhaps information targeted towards students and about how bystanders can make a difference would be more effective in a Student Handbook. Not knowing anything personally about this school or district, I hope they address school safety and school shooting prevention regularly.
Hindsight is 20-20. We, as a nation, need to be proactive to stop school shootings not reactive. I believe that schools, parents, and classmates need to work together to better prepare and stop a school shooting before it happens. I also believe student representatives should be on all committees that discuss school safety (age-appropriate). #schoolshooting #savethechildren
Source: NBC 13 WTHR, The Washington Post, Noblesville Easy Middle School Student Handbook, Noblesville School Referendum September 2021 Update