Posted: Friday, August 24th 2012 at 4:44pm
Few details released in Banks County High School shooting
By Rob Moore Editor
HOMER – The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is remaining tight-lipped about the circumstances that might have led a Banks County High School student to shoot himself at the school around 8 a.m. Friday.
The school was locked down as soon as the shooting was discovered and remained closed to outsiders until about 2 p.m.
Accompanied by Banks County Sheriff Charles Chapman and Assistant School Superintendent Donna Read, GBI Special Agent Jesse Maddox addressed both media and parents, giving an update on the lockdown situation but few details about the shooting incident itself.
“Parents, thank you for your patience,” Maddox said. “Reward your kids when you get home – they’ve been very patient, they’ve all been good. They’ve been very cooperative with us and we really appreciate that.”
“We’re done,” Maddox said of the on-site investigation. “We’re packing up our stuff and we’re going to turn the dismissal issues over to the school, and let them handle it as they see fit.”
“At this point, again, we’re not going to release any statements about the injured student,” Maddox said.
“It’s an isolated incident,” Maddox said. “I think a lot of parents were concerned that a gun was unaccounted for in the school. We have located that weapon. We located it immediately. Once again, we’re very convinced this was isolated.”
“To the parents, as best we know, we have no indication whatsoever that this was done in front of any students,” Maddox said.
Maddox said the incident happened in a bathroom, but would not classify it as a suicide attempt.
“It’s a self-inflicted – that’s what I’ll say,” Maddox said.
Asked about the student, Maddox again stressed that law enforcement would not comment on his injuries or status, nor would he say whether officials located any type note.
Regarding the arrival of a GBI bomb truck, Maddox said, “That is an abundance of caution. These are our kids – these are children. We’re going to do everything that we can to make sure that they’re safe. In a situation like this, if something just even remotely looks suspicious, we’re going to go overboard in making sure their safety is paramount.”
Maddox also discussed the six-hour lockdown imposed at the school.
“The lockdown is something that a school can issue for the students," Maddox said. "It’s not for any other reason except to keep them safe and keep them in one location. Without knowing all the facts when we first arrive on scene, we definitely want to make sure everybody is safe. Also, if there are people we need to talk to, there they’re going to be.”
Maddox said lockdown times are necessarily different in each instance.
“Sometimes things take time,” he said. “In a situation like this with kids, I truly would rather be slow as opposed to being hasty and rushing. It’s unfortunate it took this long, but we found it necessary.”
Maddox said the GBI was called in by the Banks County Sheriff’s Office “to deal with the facts of the investigation.”
He added school officials have been open and cooperative in the investigation, and that those officials plan to have counselors and peer support available to assist students in dealing with the situation.
Maddox also discussed some of the agencies and resources that were observed on site at the school.
Officers are not releasing the type weapon used, even whether it was a handgun or long weapon.
He said officers did interview some people inside the school.
“The people that we’ve talked to at this time, including students and staff that attempted to tend to the individual when the incident happened, everybody’s been very cooperative,” Maddox said.
Maddox said since it was apparent initially to be an isolated incident, officials opted to keep the students in the school rather than attempt to move them out.
“That was a determination made before the GBI got here,” Maddox said.
While Maddox did not comment on the student’s condition, Reed said the last report school officials received was that he was alive at an Atlanta hospital. He was airlifted from the parking lot of Walmart at Banks Crossing shortly after the incident.
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