Tuesday, October 21, 2014

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Quick thinking teacher prevents school shooting in Jefferson County

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Quick thinking teacher prevents school shooting in Jefferson County
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A 15-year-old boy remains in police custody after investigators say he brought a rifle into school with him Wednesday at Indian River High School. Our Candace Hopkins has the latest on the investigation, and tells us what administrators are doing to keep students safe.

SYRACUSE, N.Y.-- It was just before 1 p.m. Wednesday when the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department says a tragedy was averted at Indian River High School.

A 15-year-old boy is accused of taking a rifle to school in a case and attempting to open it during a class. The case had previously been wrapped in a blanket.

One student's guardian we spoke with shared what she heard happened from students in those chaotic seconds, after the suspect allegedly asked for volunteers to help with a demonstration of a science project.

"The teacher, I'm assuming was suspicious, I don't know for sure, but decided that he would be the volunteer and so he somehow got the kid to open it, saw the gun, and immediately ran and got the gun, grabbed the kid, and took him to the back of the classroom," said Terri Ward, whose niece attends Indian River.

Deputies have not verified that account, but say they now know the suspect's actions were part of a detailed plan. It was put into place months ago, and they believe he did intend to harm others.

"The weapon was there, the intent was there, the ammunition was there, it is a scary situation, it's a real situation, we're not downplaying it at all," said Jefferson County Undersheriff Paul Trudeau.

No one was injured and the school was immediately placed on lockdown. Despite the incident it was back open Thursday, at normal attendance levels. But for parents dropping off their kids, there was a lot of anxiety.

"I am very nervous, like I said, when you expect your child to go to school and be safe, and you know you get a little bit of a pit in your stomach dropping her off to make sure she's going to be ok," said Bobbi Jo Wetherwax.

Now deputies and the district are working together to calm those fears.

"What you do is make sure that everyone is aware that there are support services available if needed, one of the best things you can do is keep your day as normal as possible, because getting back into a routine is also a very reassuring activity," said Indian River Superintendent James Kettrick.

And while all school staff is trained to deal with these types of situations, the teacher's actions are being hailed as courageous.

"I just think the quick thinking of the teacher makes him a little bit of a hero, it was pretty awesome how quick he reacted, and really averted a situation that sounded like it was going to be pretty bad," said Ward.

Both administrators and police say this student doesn't have a history of disciplinary problems, but they will keep digging into his background to see what could've caused this.

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