At about the time a gunman began killing 17 people at a Florida school Wednesday, nearly 1,100 miles away, a Dayton middle schooler was caught with a loaded gun that prompted students to dive to the floor.
That came one day after a Montgomery County kindergarten student carried a loaded gun into school.
And Thursday, a Butler County 14-year-old was arrested for making violent threats on social media.
No one was harmed in the local incidents, but they illustrate what educators, law enforcement, parents and students now face.
“I can tell you, the kids are scared,” said Chad Wyen, Mad River Local Schools superintendent who spent Thursday reminding Stebbins High School students that “if you hear something or see something, you need to say something immediately.”
The 14-year-old who peered through the windows at Edwin Joel Brown Middle School in Dayton on Wednesday, causing students to hit the floor, carried a gun loaded with four live rounds, a police report said. He was taken into custody and appeared in juvenile court Thursday.
The Ross High School student, also 14, faces a felony charge after referencing the Florida shooting on social media. He, too, landed in juvenile court Thursday.
No charges were filed related to the kindergartener who wound up with a loaded pistol in his book bag and carried it right into his Timberlane Learning Center classroom in Harrison Twp. on Tuesday.
The episodes — which could have had different outcomes — underscore the dangers all students face, Wyen said.
“They are uncomfortable, and that’s not fair to them. They shouldn’t feel unsafe when they come to school,” said Wyen, whose district’s schools now have armed response teams. “It’s unfortunate that’s the way our society is.”
A Ross High School student initially noticed the social media threat and shared it with her parents. Others then followed, notifying authorities overnight Wednesday about the juvenile’s post. The timing allowed police and school officials to intervene before Thursday’s opening bell, said Brian Martin, the high school principal.
“We had multiple students and community members reach out to make us aware of the situation, and that should be encouraging to all of us,” Martin said. “That is exactly what we want to happen.”
The student was taken into custody at 6:30 a.m. and charged with inducing panic, a second-degree felony. The juvenile will be held at the Butler County Juvenile Detention Center. The case remains under investigation.
At the Dayton middle school on Wednesday, one of the students yelled out to his class about the gun seen in the waistband of a seventh-grader outside their classroom.
“The young student who saw the gun through the window is who acted very quickly,” said Marsha Bonhart, spokesperson for Dayton Public Schools. “I think everyone acted very quickly.”
Bonhart said a lockdown was not issued, because “the student was already quarantined, supervised and disarmed, rendering a lockdown unnecessary.”
The school’s resource officer found the student at the front doors of the school, where she patted the student down and discovered the firearm, described as a .32 special revolver, according to a police report.
According to the report, the student is a half-day student and typically leaves the school around 11:30 a.m., but is known to the school resource officer and other staff to have “some behavioral issues.”
The teen was charged with one count of conveyance of a deadly weapon onto school grounds and appeared in Montgomery County Juvenile Court Thursday. He was detained following a hearing based on requests by both prosecutors and his parents.
Wednesday’s shooting in Florida is a “stark reminder of the issues facing our country and our schools,” wrote Kettering City Schools Superintendent Scott Inskeep to parents and students Thursday.
Inskeep stressed the importance for students and parents to remain both observant for strange behavior and alert to strange social media posts. He also encouraged students to take school safety drills seriously.
“While I cannot promise that what happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School will never happen here in Kettering, Ohio, I am confident that if we all commit to listening and learning when we conduct these safety drills, we can mitigate the outcome, in the unlikely event that something like this were to happen here in our district,” he wrote.
There have been other guns found recently on young students — and near-deadly area school shootings.
Last October, police say a Middletown third grader who said he was being bullied purposely took a loaded 9 millimeter handgun to class at Rosa Parks Elementary School.
An alert teacher spotted a bulge the student’s pants pocket and confiscated the gun.
The 9-year-old was first held in the Butler County Juvenile Detention Center but later released.
Last summer, a freshman at Fairmont High School in Kettering was arrested when an unloaded gun was found in his backpack. The teen later agreed to enter a plea of responsibility.
About a year ago, police rushed to West Liberty-Salem High School for a report of student who opened fire inside the school. They arrived to find Logan Cole wounded by a shotgun blast allegedly fired by Ely Serna.
Serna was charged with multiple felonies including two counts of attempted murder. He pleaded not guilty due to reason of insanity, but the court has ruled him competent to stand trial.
Almost two years ago, 15-year-old Austin Hancock opened fire on fellow students at Madison High School in Butler County, hitting two. He was sentenced to serve time a juvenile facility until his 21st birthday.
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