By: Jennifer Britt
The Parsons Advocate
Tucker County High School staff, students, and parents were subjected to an incident that no one should ever have to experience. Incidents involving a student and a gun can never be described as a good thing and unfortunately in our country it is becoming an increasing occurrence where some schools have a much more horrific ending. Gun violence affects three million students at school each year and it’s just one factor driving student stress statistics to alarming levels.
To explain what recently occurred Tucker County School Superintendent, Alicia Lambert, released this statement, “On the morning of Feb 6 school administrators were made aware of potentially threatening comments made over the weekend on a Social Media platform SnapChat.
School officials in collaboration with the local law enforcement and our local OEM director acted quickly to control the situation.
TCHS was placed on lockdown for precautionary measures until such time that the situation was determined to be safe, at which time the lock down was lifted.
There were a lot of rumors circulating on social media about the event. I want to be perfectly clear when I say that every student and staff member in our school system experienced trauma on Monday; however, at no point during the day were they in danger. The student was never on campus. He was not in the building. The lock down was precautionary only because we did not have confirmation of his location at home until the officer arrived and detained him. There were no weapons hidden or found on school property and there is not a hit list that he was acting on.
We learned from this experience that we need to have an avenue for improved communication, but during the crisis our number one goal and priority was student and staff safety.”
Tucker County Sheriff J. E. “Jake” Kopec released a statement that explains what took place after the individual was taken into custody, “On Monday February 06, 2023, at approximately 0930 hours, a Tucker County juvenile was taken into custody following several threats he made in a group chat where he threatened to conduct a school shooting. It is not apparent that any other individuals were in concert with the juvenile that was taken into custody.
An emergency detention hearing took place for the juvenile. The school was put on heightened security as a precautionary measure. The juvenile was taken into custody at his residence, an emergency court hearing took place, and the juvenile was transported to a juvenile detention center.”
Instances of gunfire in schools spiked to the highest number in almost a decade. The study from Everytown For Gun Safety, a gun control advocacy organization, found that between Aug. 1, 2021, and May 31, 2022, there were 193 reported “incidents of gunfire” in preschools and K-12 schools. This is more than triple the previous school year, which saw 62 incidents of gunfire, and a notable increase from the previous high of 75 incidents during 2018-2019 academic year.
The report, conducted with the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, found that in school gunfire incidents during the 2021-22 year, 59 people were killed and 138 people were wounded. Six in 10 victims who were fatally shot and four in 10 victims who were wounded were either current or former students of the schools where the event occurred.
“For the last 20 years, students, educators, and parents have lived with the reality of increasingly frequent school shootings,” the report states. “The worst period for this violence has been in the 2021–2022 school year, which saw nearly quadruple the average number of gunfire incidents since 2013.”
Everyone involved was traumatized by the events that took place on Monday, February 6, but, due to the diligent response from the Tucker County Sheriff’s office, OEM Director Kevin White, and the students who came forward with the information this incident did not end with loss of life. On this day Tucker County High School did not become a fatality statistic but the threat was very real.