UPDATED: Student arrested for taking gun to WCHS brandished weapon, threatened suicide
A Whitley County High School student, arrested last Thursday afternoon for bringing a firearm onto school property, allegedly brandished the weapon in the school parking lot and apparently made threats to commit suicide before police finally took him into custody.
Details in an initial news release from the school district were sparse, but Williamsburg Police Chief Wayne Bird said the situation had the potential to end badly if it weren't for the timely intervention of authorities.
The 17-year-old, who is a student at Whitley County High School but wasn't attending classes Thursday, drove to the school parking lot to meet his girlfriend who is 18. The two had been going through a breakup, he said.
Things quickly spiraled downward.
"He drove to the campus with a shotgun and he met her in the parking lot. He knew what time she was getting out. They were both co-op students," Bird said. "He actually brandished the firearm in the parking lot."
Police and Whitley School officials say the teen never got out of his vehicle with the weapon. Bird said he isn't sure if the boy pointed the gun at his girlfriend, but he did show the weapon and allegedly made threats to kill himself.
His girlfriend eventually left the school and went to Cumberland Heights Apartments and called her mother who then notified authorities of the incident.
Bird said it wasn't long before the girl's boyfriend showed up at the apartment complex and began sending text messages to her to either come outside and meet him or he would commit suicide.
"He said she had five seconds to come outside. He actually started a countdown with the text messages," Bird said. "She went outside because she didn't want him to hurt himself."
When officers arrived, the girl was standing near the driver's side door. Her boyfriend had the shotgun in an "upright position" pointed at himself.
Police drew their weapons and managed to secure the gun and take the boy into custody.
The shotgun was loaded with two rounds. Bird said extra ammunition was found inside the truck along with suicide notes.
"I think he definitely had intentions of harming himself," Bird said. "People that are in love can do crazy things sometimes."
Bird said he talked to school officials who were shocked at the incident.
"From what we understand, he's a straight 'A' student and never been in any kind of problems whatsoever," he said. "They were actually shocked. His parents were shocked."
Whitley School officials reiterated in the official news release sent out last Friday that the student never left his vehicle while at the campus and that students inside the school were not in danger.
"At no time on Thursday did this student enter a school building, nor is there any indication that he left his vehicle while on the school campus," the release said. "Furthermore, there is no information that any threats were made to other students or any staff."
School officials say they will expel the student "if it is determined that the allegations regarding possession of a gun on campus are true."
Whitley County Schools Superintendent Scott Paul said Tuesday that the district's Board of Education does have a student disciplinary action it will consider in closed session during this Thursday's scheduled meeting, but could provide not other details.
Paula Trickett, Deputy Superintendent for the Whitley County School District, said Friday that officials worked diligently to inform the public of the events as quickly as possible. The original release of the incident, she said, was all that was known at the time. She said school officials wanted to notify parents and the community as quickly as possible about what happened because they knew there would be keen interest in the incident. Since, school officials and police have communicated more about the incident.
"We wanted to be transparent through this whole process," Trickett said. "We want parents in this school district to know as quickly as possible when something like this happens and we worked hard to get the facts about this to them in a timely manner."
Bird said the boy was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm on school property - a felony offense. Additionally, he said the boy's girlfriend swore out a complaint for harassment and harassing communications. He is currently being held in the Breathitt County juvenile detention facility and was scheduled to undergo an evaluation last Friday. Bird said the boy is on suicide watch at the jail. He was due back in Whitley District Court Monday at 2:00 p.m. for a hearing.
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