Ashland high schooler suspected of school threat killed himself in front of officers
KBIA reporter Kyle Jacoby was at the press conference Tuesday afternoon at the Boone County Sheriff's headquarters in Columbia, where Boone County Chief Deputy Tom Reddin, Ashland Police Chief Lyn Woolford, and Southern Boone Country School District Superintendent Chris Felmlee talked to reporters about the incident.
Woolford said it was a text message that prompted the police investigation.
“This was a text between classmates. The threat was non descriptive, but yet threatening. It was specific enough to indicate something was going to happen at the school and would involve injury,” Woolford said.
The Ashland Police Department was just one of many entities involved in the investigation.
“Multiple agencies were contacted to include University of Missouri Police, Capitol Police, Ashland Police Department, ATF, and school staff because the threat was against the high school,” Woolford said.
Reddin described what happened at the home of the teen that was suspected of sending the text message, where officers arrived at around 2:00am Tuesday.
“Our deputy along with Ashland police responded back to the residence on Bob Beach Road, it was at that time to take the 17 year old student into custody for investigation due to the threat made against the school. Family was present. Law enforcement was present," Redding said. “The student, while obtaining some articles of clothing, also retrieved a small caliber handgun that was kept in the residence, turned that handgun on himself, and discharged the firearm into his chest.”
Felmlee says the decision to cancel school happened overnight.
“Based on the totality of the situation, and the need to ensure that the other campuses were safe, that is when I decided that I needed more time to investigate this thoroughly. It was after midnight (when I decided to cancel school),” Felmlee said. “Many resources were brought into the high school building, as well as our middle school, elementary and primary, our buildings are safe, and they have been thoroughly checked.”
Felmlee knows the teen’s death will affect the entire community.
“It’s not just the school, it’s the whole community that is going to go through this and need time to heal. It is a tragic, tragic loss what occurred, and it’s going to take time. We’ll work closely with our community churches, counseling resources, definitely," Felmlee said.
Classes will resume Wednesday. Felmlee plans to have someone speak to each class in the school district telling students what happened, and notifying them of counseling resources.
Governor Jay Nixon was scheduled to visit Fairview Elementary School in Columbia Tuesday afternoon, but in press release his office says the visit was canceled out of respect for the situation at this neighboring district. In the press release, Nixon is quoted as saying:
“Our educators and law enforcement officials are dedicated to keeping the children of Missouri safe. This event reminds us of the vital nature of that responsibility. Tragic events of this nature demonstrate the serious manner in which these responsibilities should be carried out. The state of Missouri has made, and will continue to make, law enforcement and other resources available as necessary.”
The Boone County Sheriff's Department and Ashland Police department issued this press release Tuesday morning detailing the incident. Police say they went to the home of the 17-year-old suspected of making a threat against the high school that led to classes being canceled Tuesday. The release says while the Ashland High School student was being taken into custody he "obtained a gun" and shot himself in the chest. The departments and the school superintendent will hold a press conference to talk about the incident at 12:30 today, and a KBIA reporter will be there. Check back for more later.
On September 9, 2013 at approximately 10:30 p.m., Ashland Police received a report of a threat against Southern Boone County High School in Ashland. The threat originated in the form of a text message. Subsequent investigation by Ashland Police and Boone County Deputies deemed the threat to be credible. Southern Boone County School District authorities were also advised of this threat. Multiple resources to include Ashland Police, Boone County Sheriff’s Department, MU Police Department, Capital Police, Mid-Missouri Bomb Squad, and the ATF were mobilized and a search of school facilities commenced. Southern Boone County School District officials canceled classes for today as a precaution while searches were being conducted and the investigation continued. This was an extensive search to include the use of explosives detecting K9s. No devices of a threatening nature were discovered and the school facilities have been released. Law enforcement officers of the Ashland Police and Boone County Sheriff’s Department responded to the residence of a 17 year old Ashland High School student believed to be the originator of the threatening text. While taking the subject into custody, he obtained a handgun and turned it on himself, discharging the firearm into his chest. Fire and EMS were immediately summoned and officers began efforts to treat the downed subject. He was transported to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injury and died. Authorities are not releasing the name of the decedent as the investigation is ongoing. Classes will resume tomorrow at Southern Boone County Schools, September 11, 2013 and grief counselors will be available to students and staff.
The Boone County Journal reports this morning that officials closed schools after receiving what they called a "credible threat." Superintendent Chris Felmlee told the Journal he wanted to be sure the schools were safe before bringing students into the buildings, which were being checked this morning.