A flood of panicked calls started pouring in to the Champaign County Sheriffs office at 7:36 a.m. Friday, reporting an active shooter on the premises at West Liberty-Salem High School, but little else, according to Senior Dispatcher Robin Ballard.
Ballard said she and two other Champaign County dispatchers, as well as their supervisor, were suddenly and unexpectedly deluged with pleas for help dripping with fear and despair.
“We had calls from teachers, staff and several of the children inside the school that called 911,” Ballard said. “The kids were all upset. They told us there was an active shooter, but they didn’t know if there was more than one.”
Ballard said dispatchers remained on the line with callers until police arrived at the school, where one student, identified as Logan Cole, suffered multiple gunshot wounds and is in critical but stable condition. A 17-year-old student, who was not named, was hit with part of a shot that discharged but was not seriously hurt. The 17-year-old suspect, identified as Ely Serna, was armed with a shotgun, according to authorities.
“We were busy getting help there to them, and trying to keep them calm, but we didn’t have to give the much direction because they all had had ALICE training,” Ballard said, referring to a civilian active shooter response training program adopted by many schools and other institutions.
The program acronym stands for “Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate,” and West Liberty students and staff did exactly that, Ballard said.
“The kids did what they were supposed to, and so did the staff,” she said. “They did a very good job.”
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