Court statement details shooter’s account of events


A Champaign County Juvenile Court statement filed by the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office details the events of last week’s West Liberty-Salem school shooting from an interview with the shooter.

Ely R. Serna, 17, is facing 13 charges including two counts of attempted murder and six counts of improperly discharging a firearm at or into a habitation or a school safety zone stemming from last Friday’s shooting at West Liberty-Salem High School.

A court statement the Daily Citizen obtained from the sheriff’s office recounts an interview law enforcement conducted with Serna following the shooting. The court statement was filed by Champaign County Sheriff Detective Glenn Kemp.

During the interview, Serna stated around 5:42 a.m. last Friday he entered his parent’s bedroom accessing the attached bathroom where he obtained the black Mossberg Model 500 12 gauge pump action shotgun he would use in the shooting. He stated he removed the shotgun from a black plastic gun case during the time it was present within the bathroom.

Serna advised he was the owner of the shotgun which had been purchased and given to him as a Christmas gift two years prior.

Prior to leaving his residence, Serna obtained ammunition, a screwdriver and used the screwdriver to disassemble the shotgun which he placed into a book bag. Serna told law enforcement he had a home-made mask constructed of duct tape and a camouflage M60 field jacket vest. He also indicated the shotgun ammunition was placed in the pockets of the jacket vest.

As he departed his residence, he placed the book bag in the rear passenger seat of the vehicle he was driving.

After arriving at the school, Serna said he remained in the vehicle for 10 to 15 minutes before entering the building.

Serna stated he entered the building via the entrance at the science wing and indicated that after entering the building he turned and walked to a bathroom. After an unidentified student left the bathroom, Serna entered a toilet stall where he hung the book bag on the hook present on the door interior.

Serna proceeded to use the screwdriver to assemble the shotgun. He stated he then said “the Lord’s prayer,” donned the field jacket vest and the duct tape mask.

Serna advised the starting bell for class rang at 7:35 a.m. and he remained in the stall for several minutes before exiting, noting it took some time to reassemble the firearm without making noise.

After exiting the stall, Serna noted fellow student Logan Cole entering the bathroom. Upon seeing Cole, Serna stated he fired two rounds at him striking him in the side of his body and in the chest.

Serna stated Cole fell to the floor and he believed Cole was dead. He then advised he heard a voice say “hello” and he knew the voice to be a teacher named Mr. Thomas who extended his head around the corner to peek into the bathroom. Serna stated that he may have shot at the teacher.

Serna then went to the hallway where he believed he discharged shotgun rounds through the window present in the door of a classroom and discharged rounds through the window present in the door of another classroom.

After retreating into the bathroom, Serna noticed Cole was not deceased due to seeing his eyes blinking.

Serna stated that he exclaimed “you’re not dead” and began to apologize to Cole and asked him if he could shoot and turned the shotgun in his hands so he was holding the barrel of the firearm toward him and the butt and trigger assembly toward Cole.

Serna advised he pressed the muzzle of the shotgun to his forehead and requested Cole pull the trigger, which Cole refused to do.

Serna stated he then heard additional voices in the hallway outside the bathroom. He stated the voices belonged to Principal Greg Johnson and Assistant Principal Andy McGill.

Serna proceeded to enter the same toilet stall he previously used and discarded the field jacket vest and kicked the shotgun across the floor.

Serna stated McGill came into contact with him and held him down until law enforcement arrived.

During the interview, Serna denied there were additional firearms involved and stated he acted alone, not having disclosed the plan to any other person. When asked about dried blood on his hands, Serna stated the blood came from Cole, who was bleeding, and at one point during the incident he held Cole’s hand.

The court statement notes the sheriff’s office learned last Saturday another student reported he was present in one of the classrooms outside the bathroom where Cole was shot. The second victim, who the court statement identifies as Adam Schultz, discovered that he had been struck and injured with part of the shot that was discharged from the shotgun and the shot was embedded in his flesh. He was able to remove the shot.

After being closed on Monday, West Liberty-Salem Schools resumed operations on Tuesday.

By Nick Walton

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Nick Walton can be reached at 937-652-1331 Ext. 1777 or on Twitter @UDCWalton.

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