PHILIPPI, WV - Kids will go to great lengths to get out of doing school work, but in West Virginia, one 14-year-old seems to have taken it way too far. Authorities have not yet released the name of the Phillip Barbour High School student who took 29 people hostage at gunpoint, but charges may be filed against him.
Fortunately, no one was injured, but pulling out a pistol in his afternoon class resulted in many anxious moments for students, faculty and parents of the kids inside the building. Through tears, one parent expressed just how thankful she was everyone made it out of the school okay.
The suspect is being evaluated at a local hospital and extra guidance counselors were on campus today to deal with the after-effects. Here is how it all unfolded, though, in the town of three thousand.
Shortly after 1:30 on Tuesday afternoon, as kids were filing into their second-story classroom, one student pulled out a pistol. The teacher was able to keep other children from coming into the classroom, but 29 were trapped at gunpoint. Those students who were denied entry quickly alerted the assistant principal and law enforcement responded immediately. The school was locked down immediately, too.
State Police Captain Dave P. Reider said, 'We believe the educators did an outstanding job. I believe the parents were very cooperative. We averted tragedy."
Reider says they first negotiated with the juvenile and convinced him to release the students....then the teacher, and ultimately, he put the gun down and surrendered to police.
Thanks to cell phones, many of the kids who were elsewhere in the building were able to text their parents about what was going on. One student was in a classroom just two doors down and immediately sent texts to both parents to let hem know he loved them.
Everyone was eventually evacuated to the football field. Three different law enforcement agencies are trying to find a motive. County Prosecuting Attorney Leckta Poling said, "Our main concern is the safety of the students and securing the school." She does anticipate filing charges against the juvenile.
Fearing yet another school shooting rampage like that of Columbine or Sandy Hook, many parents began showing up in droves. As one parent said through tears, 'You just never believe it could really happen here....until it does."
School was only delayed by about two hours the day after this incident. According to County Superintendent, Jeffrey Woofter, students want and need to be with one another after this type of tragedy that could certainly have been much worse. "Actually," he said, "I think the best counseling they can get is from their classmates."