WEST LIBERTY, Ohio (AP) — A male student who was shot and wounded at an Ohio school was hospitalized Friday, and another student suspected in the shooting was in custody, officials said.
West Liberty-Salem Local School District Superintendent Kraig Hissong said the shooting occurred just as classes were getting underway at the school complex roughly 45 miles northwest of Columbus.
Authorities haven’t released information about the shooter. The shooting victim was taken to a Columbus hospital, but neither details about the extent of injuries nor the circumstances of the shooting have been released. No other injuries were reported.
Senior Ashley Rabenstein told local TV reporters that she was in class down the hall at the time, and when students first heard an odd noise, they weren’t sure what it might be because construction has been occurring at the property. She said her teacher checked the hallway, then ran back and said there was a shooter and threw desks against the door to block it. Students fled through the windows and ran through a cornfield to regroup at nearby houses, Rabenstein said.
“Especially in … such a small town like this where you pretty much know everyone who lives in the town, you just never think that stuff like this is going to happen,” she said.
Hissong said teachers and students followed their emergency training.
“This is one of those things that you always see happen in places that aren’t near you, and you don’t think it’s going to occur,” Hissong said. “Of course when they happen closer, such as some of the shootings that occurred within the last year, it helps you take notice and remember that you need to be prepared for a moment like this.”
The district slowly evacuated the school three or four school buses at a time, loading up students — younger grades first — and taking them to a city park in nearby West Liberty where they were met by families.
Parent Emily Thornburg, of West Liberty, was waiting there for her daughter, a fourth-grader.
She said the community was very “tight-knit,” and everyone was rallying to help each other. Thornburg described how she felt when she heard about the shooting.
“I just thought about how scared my kids probably were, and that I couldn’t be there to grab them,” Thornburg said.
Jason Dillon, 37, of West Liberty, was at work at the East Liberty Honda plant, when the news was announced over the intercom. He said he had been waiting about two hours for his daughter, a freshman, and his son, an eighth-grader.
“Pretty nerve-wracking,” he said.
“It’s in the back of your mind, when you send your kids, that you want them to come home safe. But days like today, really, it hits home.”
Hissong said administrators would have to further evaluate the situation before deciding whether classes resume Monday.