Northwestern student’s gun was loaded when recovered, police say


UPDATE @ 2:32 p.m. (Jan. 25):

German Twp. Police said the handgun recovered off-campus was loaded and had been inside the school prior to being located.

“The student did bring the gun onto the bus when he was picked up in the morning and did take the gun to school and at one point did have a gun in his classroom,” said Lt. Russell Garman with the German Twp. Police Dept.

>> School board: Northwestern superintendent OK to return to work

A student at the school made the assistant principal aware of that a student had come into the office area to report another student may have a gun, Garman said.

“With that information the school staff had went into the classroom, removed the student without incident, brought him to the office area and an officer met with the student. Later on the an investigation was conducted throughout the day and the weapon was located and recovered,” Garman added.

The student was identified as being 15-years-old, Garman said.

The weapon was found inside the 15-year-old’s grandmother’s vehicle, police said.

UPDATE @ 12:45 p.m. (Jan. 25): The gun that prompted a one-call to Northwestern parents Wednesday night was found off campus, the district’s school board president said.

Andy Gundolf, the Northwestern school board president, said school officials and German Twp. police were investigating whether a student brought a gun to the high school throughout Wednesday after a student alerted staff of the possibility. The district waited until about 9 p.m. to make the one-call after evidence was found that confirmed the gun might have made its way onto the school’s premises, Gundfold said.

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“The communication delay is a parallel of the time of the investigation,” Gundolf said. “The investigation was ongoing throughout the day and the student was removed from our property and no firearm was found. As the investigation unfolded the firearm was recovered off of school property.”

Parents have contacted this newsroom asking why the school did not put out a one-call sooner. Gundolf said he has heard the same complaint but assures the community the school worked fast to make sure every kid was safe.

“We were able to communicate the facts,” Gundolf said. “It was evolving throughout the day.”

Northwestern is having school as usual today, Gundolf said, with the only difference being he met with staff to assure them the school is safe.

“I am a parent in the same building and classes and the safety is the utmost importance,” he said. “We are happy we had students that came forward.”

Gundolf declined to give the name of the student.

UPDATE @ 9:05 p.m. (Jan. 24): The Northwestern Board of Education has issued the following statement regarding a student accused of bringing a gun to Northwestern High School, from Andy Gundolf, school board president: 

"District administrators were alerted today at approximately 8:30 a.m. that a student may be in possession of a small handgun. The student was immediately removed from class and brought to a safe area while law enforcement was alerted. 

“The student was removed from school premises at approximately 9:30 a.m. As law enforcement continued their investigation throughout the day and the handgun was recovered. Law enforcement has determined that the handgun may have been on school premises. 

“We want to thank our Northwestern students and staff for taking swift action to ensure the safety or our district. We also appreciate the swift and thorough efforts of our local law enforcement during this unfortunate situation. Every student should feel safe at school and we are committed to ensuring the safety of all at Northwestern Local Schools.”

The mother of a student at the high school said her household received a one-call at 9 p.m. about the gun incident.

“It’s concerning to me that we didn’t hear about it earlier,” she said, asking not to be identified by name. “This is the first I knew about it.”

The phone message from Northwestern High School Principal Lori Swafford informed parents of the incident and assured them the school was safe:

“This morning a student reported to a staff member that another student may have been in possession of a small handgun. The school, in cooperation with the German Twp. Police Department, began an immediate investigation. As the investigation evolved, the police have determined the gun may have been in the student's possession at school. School safety at Northwestern is of paramount importance. We have worked hard to develop a culture that places safety at the forefront. From our secure facilities, to our trained staff, and to our students who are told to say something when they see something, we are commited to a safe and healthy educational environment. We want to thank our students and staff for taking swift action to ensure the safety of our district. Every student should feel safe at school.”

INITIAL REPORT (Jan. 24):

A Northwestern High School student is locked up tonight who is accused of bringing a gun to school.

German Twp. Police Chief Mike Stitzel confirmed tonight that district officials called police this morning to the school, 5780 Troy Road, on a report of an incident involving a gun.

>> Logan Cole remembers West Liberty school shooting one year later

“There is a juvenile that has been arrested and booked into juvenile detention,” Stitzel said. “We did retrieve a firearm but we’re not at liberty to reveal any further information.”

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Stitzel said the school is safe, and that more information about the case would be available Thursday. The student’s gender, age and reason for bringing the weapon to school was not available.


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