Parents pick up West Liberty students after shooting

Parents of West Liberty-Salem High School students have been picking up their children on East Baird Street just east of town.  

Students were taken out of the front of the school around 9:13 a.m. this morning after a shooter was reported to be in the building earlier.

One student was injured in the shooting.   


Jennifer Kirkham, of West Liberty, said her daughter called her hysterically shortly before 8 a.m. Kirkham said she didn't believe what her told her when told there was a shooting.


"I made her repeat it three times," Kirkham said. "It didn’t process." 

Ben Smith first heard from his daughter as she got off a bus at lions park where dozens of families picked up the students. He was confident she was safe because the incident took place on the other side of the school but said he was still concerned for her safety.

"That helped me early on having a feeling they were safe but still not knowing for sure," he said. 

Emily Thornburg hugged her daughter tightly as her daughter exited a bus at Lions Park. Thornton was at work when her co-workers told her of the shooting.

"West Liberty is such a tight knit community," she said. "Everyone knows everybody. This kind of stuff doesn't happen here."

Thornburg said the family would spend more time together this weekend as they processed the days events.

RELATED: School security expert: Rural areas not more prone to shootings

A student said he was sitting in class during first period when he heard a loud bang.

“It sounded like a board dropping,” he said. “I didn’t really think much about it, and then a kid ran in and said ‘there’s a shooter.’”
The student said he and his classmates realized they had to leave so they removed the screen and left through the window. 

Parents picking up kids


Kristie Herlong, a parent who has a son in second grade, said when she dropped him off for school he didn’t want to go in because he had a spelling test. 

“I thought he didn’t know how to spell the word scissors. I made him go in today,” Herlong said, breaking up. 

When she later heard the noise about a shooting at the school, “Crazy thoughts that go in a mom’s mind, what could happen,” Herlong said. “My imagination went nuts. I called the school, no answer. I have a friend that works there, texted her, no answer.” 

Herlong said the staff was great at communicating that children were safe. 

RELATED: 7 lessons learned from another local school shooting

 “I just want to hurry up and squeeze him and have a good day off, and I feel bad for yelling at him this morning to go to school,” Herlong said. 

Lori Jeffers, of West Kanagy Road near the school, said when she woke up to take her dog outside she “saw commotion” at the school. She said groups of students were meeting in the grass across from her home where school buses picked them up. Families were also gathering in the area outside Jeffers’ home. 

She said as of 10 a.m., the scene outside her home was “quiet now.” She could still see police vehicles outside the school.

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