Seventeen-year-old Ely Ray Serna faces attempted murder charges after Friday’s school shooting at West Liberty-Salem High School that left 16-year-old Logan Cole fighting for his life at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus. Both Serna and Cole are WL-S students. Another WL-S student, age 17, was injured less severely in the shooting but has not been identified by investigators except by the initials A.S.
Serna, a WL-S wrestler, is incarcerated in a nearby juvenile facility while the Champaign County Prosecutor’s Office seeks a ruling in juvenile court that would allow him to be tried as an adult.
According to publicly-viewable social media posts which members of the Cole family have been using regularly over the past few days to update the tens of thousands of people following this case, Logan Cole was moved out of the intensive care unit Saturday night and continues his recovery at Nationwide after suffering two gunshot wounds at close range.
As community churches continued days of praying for the shooting victims and the alleged perpetrator, details emerged through official sources about how the events unfolded on Friday morning as classes were set to begin at WL-S. Instead of a day of schooling, students and teachers went into a trained response action known as ALICE (alert, lockdown, inform, counter, evacuate) before Serna was contained by staff and held for law enforcement – which arrived within five minutes of the 911 call according to a social media report from the sheriff’s office. Students were then removed from the school campus to safer local venues before being released to their parents.
Weekend activities for WL-S were canceled after the shooting and, according to the school district’s website, classes will resume Tuesday, Jan. 24, on a one-hour delay. There is no school scheduled for Monday and the district’s website notes it will be used as a teacher work day.
According to a statement released Saturday afternoon from Champaign County Prosecutor Kevin Talebi, the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office seized a Mossberg Model 500 12-gauge shotgun at the school and “this is the weapon that is alleged to have been used by Mr. Serna.”
Talebi stated: “The nature of the crimes alleged are such that the Champaign County Prosecutor’s Office will be filing a motion on Monday morning requesting that the Juvenile Court relinquish jurisdiction and bind Mr. Serna’s case over to the General Division of the Champaign County Court of Common Pleas so that Mr. Serna may be tried as an adult. If the Court grants the State’s request to relinquish jurisdiction then Mr. Serna, if convicted, will be subject to adult criminal penalties.”
Serna faces two counts of attempted murder, three counts of felonious assault, six counts of improperly discharging a firearm at or into a habitation or a school safety zone, one count of inducing panic and one count of illegal conveyance of possession of a deadly weapon or dangerous ordnance in a school safety zone.
The shooting and its aftermath were detailed by Logan Cole’s father, Ryan Cole, in a lengthy publicly-viewable social media post on Saturday afternoon. According to the post about Logan’s condition:
1. He has a lot of shot (pellets) in his body. Probably 70-80. Two of these are in his spinal canal. Thankfully, one of them narrowly missed a nerve (nerve is on the right side and pellet is on the left side). The body will naturally encapsulate the pellets that are in the soft tissue.
2. Logan’s backbone took a lot of impact from one of the shots. There are multiple breaks and fractures. One potential risk is compression of the spine. Logan will need to wear a back/neck brace for 3 months in order to let the backbone fuse in place. He will be on physical restrictions during that time.
3. Logan is doing as well as can be expected from a mental/emotional standpoint but we would ask that you continue to pray for healing in this area. As you can imagine, it is a lot to process and his memory of the situation is very vivid.
4. Logan’s right lung is damaged from the pellets. There may be partial loss to some of his overall capacity but that should be limited.
5. Logan’s front 3 teeth are broken from hitting the floor.
6. Please continue to pray that infection will not be an issue.
I won’t go into all the details but as he was laying on the floor bleeding from two shotgun wounds, he was talking to the shooter asking/begging him to please not cause further injury to anyone at the school or to himself.
God chose to use Logan in this situation and Logan responded to that opportunity. We could not be prouder of him. Logan is truly a hero.
Feel free to share this post as there are a lot of people in the community that have been inquiring about Logan. Thank you all so much for your prayers.
Reactions from school, law enforcement in aftermath
Champaign County Sheriff Matt Melvin and WL-S Superintendent Kraig Hissong each released statements about the response to the shooting that praised the teamwork involved with minimizing its impact.
Melvin stated in a post to the sheriff’s office’s Facebook page, “I’d like to thank the students and staff at West Liberty Schools for their awesome response to a tragic event. I also would like to thank the parents of the students for their patience while we cleared and secured the scene. As many of the responding law enforcement officials are parents themselves we realize how hard the waiting and unknowns must have been. The cooperation from Logan, Shelby, Clark, Union County Sheriff’s Offices, West Liberty PD, Urbana PD, OSHP, and Special Agents from the Attorney General Mike DeWine’s Office BCI&I could not have been greater. In closing, I would like to extend our thoughts and prayers to the victim and his family.”
Hissong stated on the district’s website: “We can not thank everyone enough for the support you have provided to the school district since last Friday’s tragedy. The encouraging words we have received from our families, community, and surrounding area is truly amazing. It is a blessing for all of us here at West Liberty-Salem to work and serve in this community. I believe the true character of our staff and our community has been reflected by the actions taken in response to this incident. Moving forward, the district is committed to providing a safe learning environment for our students. Review of safety and security procedures will be ongoing to continue to do all that is reasonably possible to prevent future incidents and to learn from what has occurred. Our thoughts are with all students and families in the wake of this event and especially with the Cole family as Logan continues to recover from his injuries.”
Urbana Daily Citizen Managing Editor Brenda Burns can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.