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Crisis averted: How an attempted school shooting was shut down

WTAP News @ 10- Attempted school shooting stopped in its tracks
Published: Apr. 6, 2022 at 9:06 PM EDT
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RIPLEY, W.Va. (WTAP) - An attempted school shooting was stopped in its tracks Wednesday morning.

Jackson County Sheriff Ross Mellinger said of the incident, “This wasn’t simply a show and tell gone wrong. This wasn’t sort of an irresponsible type thing. There was a plan in place...and we use this analogy. This was kind of like a team driving 99 down a field and they’re at the goal line and they fumble.”

It started out like any other day. Students piled onto the school bus, ready for class. However, in the middle of the drive, one student noticed something out of the ordinary. A 15 year old had a gun in his backpack. Not only that, he had a magazine and ammunition.

“..., so he had the presence of mind to go ahead and grab that magazine from the automatic handgun, secured it, and made the bus driver aware,” Mellinger said.

The gun had been stolen. The 15 year old middle schooler’s 16 year old brother had stolen it in a burglary over the weekend and gave it to his younger brother, according to officials.

The bus driver pulled over and called the police. Now both brothers are in custody.

Mellinger said law enforcement has since identified at least one person the suspect intended to shoot at Ripley Middle School.

It’s a situation that could have had a much darker ending.

Mellinger said, “You know, you might only have one intended target but what happens when the rubber meets the road and the pressure’s on and one student becomes two, two becomes three, and, before you know it, full-blown panic has ensued?”

Jackson County Superintendent Blaine Hess is thankful for the action of students on that bus.

“We were very fortunate to get a federal grant a few years ago and do some training through the Sandy Hook Foundation. One particular program in mind called See Something Say Something so that students, when they see something that’s out of the ordinary or something that’s concerning, they don’t keep it to themselves. They say something about it,” he said.

Mellinger declined to give many details about the suspects due to them being juveniles, but did say that they are familiar with local law enforcement.

Detention hearings were conducted Wednesday and, according to Mellinger, more hearings are to come.

Hess said school officials will conduct their own investigation into the incident.

He said, “We will conduct our own investigation in addition to what they’re doing [law enforcement] for our processes and things we do within the school system with student matters. I’m not at liberty to get into the student part of that but we do have processes in place to address issues like this.”

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