By Derek Etter, Emily Heiss, and Ali Kochik
While on duty during C lunch Wed. Nov. 29, senior high principal Mark Shue learned that a male student brought a loaded gun with him that morning.
In that moment, Shue said that he knew that the student needed to be located and taken into custody.
Within 15 minutes, the student was found and removed from class, and the gun recovered.
The tip off about the gun came from students.
In an interview the day after the incident, Mr. Shue said if there was one thing that the school can take away from this, it’s the age old mantra, “If you see something, say something.”
While the students who shared the information with Mr. Shue cannot be named due to confidentiality, he expressed that their actions should be regarded as heroic. It is important that the student body follows in their footsteps and remembers to speak up upon noticing anything out of the ordinary.
“This is your school, you guys, the 1,600 kids,” Shue said. “We want things to be as safe as possible for [students] so you can learn and get further in life.”
Officer Marc Greenly, who responded to the report of a gun, reflected about the lessons to be learned.
“One of the obvious, don’t bring weapons to school,” Officer Greenly said. “But if you think, know, hear, even a rumor, tell somebody immediately, don’t wait, not even a single period. Get out and tell us, and don’t wait.”
Officer Marc Greenly said he learned through student witnesses during the lunch shift, that the student who had a gun reportedly had the weapon on his person and in his bag earlier in the school day. It had been seen in the boys’ restroom in the Commons. Greenly immediately investigated the student who was named by locating him in class.
When the reported student did not have a gun on him, he checked back with witnesses who gave a new last name.
“He had the wrong demeanor,” Greenly said. “I could tell this student was innocent.”
At this point, he made sure that no one was allowed to go into the Commons bathroom and had a teacher guarding the door.
He made his way to the suspected student’s classroom, where he patted down the student and had a teacher search his bag under the rule of reasonable suspicion.
The gun was not found in the bag, so Officer Greenly returned to check the bathrooms while the student was sent to the office.
Upon entering the boys’ bathroom in the Commons, Greenly flipped trash cans until he found a loaded .22 caliber handgun.
The gun was not registered under any make, except a small “U.S. Firearms” label.
The student, who now faces juvenile charges of reckless endangerment, carrying a firearm without a license, and a having weapon on school property, is in juvenile detention awaiting further action.
Superintendent Dr. Scott Deisley was extremely satisfied with how efficiently Mr. Shue and Officer Greenly executed the situation.
By the time he was informed, everyone was safe.
“Principal Shue handled the situation,” Deisley said, “and I was notified within minutes of the incident.”
Many students, parents, and community members took to social media and asked why there was no lockdown initiated. The Leonid asked that question to all three.
The primary reason they said is because the situation was resolved before a lockdown could even be deemed necessary. Dr. Deisley, Mr. Shue, and Officer Greenly all agreed.
“If we would lock the building down every time we got a call of suspicion of somebody who had obtained drugs, alcohol, or a weapon, then what we would do is create more anxiety than we would solve,” said Mr. Shue.
“We did not choose to do that [lockdown], and I stand by that decision,” said Officer Greenly. “Anyways, students would have evacuated into the same bathroom from which I retrieved the gun.”
An issue that has caused a stir among many parents was Dr. Deisley's decision to first inform everyone of the incident via Facebook and email rather than a call home.
“The social media post hit 17,000 people very quickly, and the automated email went to inboxes within 30 seconds of hitting send,” Deisley said. “However, when I make a phone call, I have to send about 30,000 phone messages. Those messages take about half an hour to go out, and anywhere between 30 and 40% of those actually get picked up… So from an efficiency point of view, [a phone call] is the least efficient.”
See something? Say something.
Dr. Deisley thought of the idea inspired by posters that he saw at a Philadelphia Eagles game to put posters around the school with Leo the Lion that read, “See something, Say something.” On the posters is QR code, a phone and text number, and an email address that will lead to an anonymous tip line where students can provide the school with tips, get help with drug abuse and bullying and alert the school of safety concerns for themselves or a friend.
“The one thing that hopefully we can shatter here is this old myth about the snitch,” said Mr. Shue. “The whole snitch thing comes up with this whole almost mob mentality. And as far as the whole snitch mentality, all you’re doing is protecting the guilty.”
It is also worth noting that, should a student comes forward with any information, their name would be kept anonymous for the sake of safety and privacy. Students wouldn’t need to worry about their name being exposed, should they come forward with valuable information such as what was provided to Shue by undeniable heros.
“To be a student in a high school and to tell on somebody is a hard thing to do, especially when there is an item of concern such as a gun involved, even some adults cannot do that,” said Dr. Deisley. “This is OUR school. We need to come together and make it a safe place where we want to be.”
See something, say something: