Classes resume at West Liberty with message from shooting victim

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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West Liberty-Salem officials discuss last week's shooting.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

West Liberty-Salem students returned to classes Tuesday in generally good spirits, school leaders said, and heard an encouraging message from the victim of a shooting there last week.

High school students watched a video that discussed the shooting Friday when deputies alleged 17-year-old Ely Serna brought a shotgun to school and fired multiple shots. Logan Cole, 16, was struck multiple times and is recovering at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus.

RELATED: Sister of alleged West Liberty shooter speaks, school to re-open

Another male student who hasn’t been identified was hit by a pellet during the shooting, but his injuries are considered minor and he didn’t receive treatment.

The end of the video showed Cole recovering at the hospital. West Liberty Superintendent Kraig Hissong said Cole and his family sent the video to encourage the other students.

“That video ended with a video clip of Logan Cole in the hospital basically wishing all the student body well today and saying he was very happy they got to return to school today and he was looking forward to joining them in the near future,” Hissong said.

READ MORE: West Liberty school shooting rocks tight-knit community

Attendance was high Tuesday with about 97 percent of students there, Hissong said, the first day back since the shooting. The average at the district is around 95 percent. Counselors were available to students and deputies were also at the school to greet children on their way in. Law enforcement will continue to be present in the school district for added security.

“Taking control”

The staff members who stopped the alleged shooter before he might have harmed more students were identified Tuesday. They were instrumental in taking control of the situation and ending it, Hissong said.

Middle/High School Principal Greg Johnson and K-12 Assistant Principal Andy McGill were on top of Serna when Champaign County deputies arrived.

“Everybody on that day was a hero in some way,” Hissong said. “Everybody responded to the situation in a way that they needed to.

DETAILS: Active shooter training factor in West Liberty-Salem HS shooting

Johnson and McGill wanted to be with the students and the school district Tuesday for their first day back, Hissong said, and declined interview requests.

Hissong said Serna didn’t have any previous disciplinary action taken against him before Friday’s shooting. The West Liberty-Salem Wrestling Facebook page said last week that he had just won the 170 pound championship at the Ben Logan JV Invitational wrestling tournament.

Pellet in the heart

Ryan Cole, the father of Logan Cole, said his son has a pellet from the shooting in his heart that might require surgery.

“The awesome news is that it is on the right side,” Ryan Cole said in a Facebook post Tuesday. “The right side is the low pressure side that feeds into the lungs. This means that it did not require immediate surgery and Logan is not in immediate risk.”

But the pellet can allow bacteria to grow, he said, and put the 16-year-old at risk of a heart infection.

LEARN MORE: Shootings at K-12 schools in Ohio in the past 50 years

“The alternative to leaving the pellet in is to do open heart surgery and to remove the pellet,” he said. “This is typically a pretty safe surgery but there are risks associated with it. The risks to Logan may be higher due to the open wounds he has from the gunshots as well as the damage to the spinal cord.”

His family asked the community to pray for Logan Cole.

“We would also ask you to pray for wisdom for the doctors as well as Logan, Julie, and myself with regard to the decision needing to be made about open heart surgery,” Ryan Cole said.

Logan Cole was initially taken to the intensive care unit in critical condition but has since been moved out of the ICU.

Pastor Bill Walker of Quest Community Church has been visiting the family in the hospital.

“Luckily we’re not planning a funeral, you know that’s the blessing, that Logan’s going to be OK,” he said. “You know he’s got a long road ahead of him, but he’s still with us and we just praise God for that.”

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A fake GoFundMe account has been set up asking for money for the Cole family, Walker said.

“You’ll see the best of people in this and you’ll see some of the worst in people, and I guess that person needs our forgiveness just like anybody else does,” Walker said.

A real account has been set up by family, he said.

“The legitimate one I think has West Liberty strong on it or orange strong, that’s the legitimate one, and the other one was not set up by the Cole family and was done so without their permission,” Walker said.

Still thankful

Hissong continued to express gratitude to the community, local school districts and law enforcement agencies Tuesday morning.

“We are beginning already to heal and come together,” he said. “I think at this point I’m already beginning to feel what our sign says, we are strong, and we’re going to definitely be able to get through it.”

The school district and community started #TigerStrong and #WLSStrong to bring the community together.

“It’s a safe community, it’s a good community, it still is,” Walker said. “I spoke on Sunday how it rocked our foundation, and we need to look to our foundation as God and just turn to him in these times.”

Ryan Cole also said many people from many different places have reached out to his family.

“The outpouring of support by so many people has been simply overwhelming,” he said. “The texts, Facebook messages, gifts, visitors, pictures, food, help with kids, and most importantly the prayers are appreciated beyond what any of you will ever know.”

Staff Writer Natalie Jovonovich contributed to this report.

Staying with the story

The Springfield News-Sun has reported on the shooting at West Liberty-Salem since the news first broke Friday morning, including stories digging into how it affected students and the community and the role of training in responding to it.

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