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JCPS, Police to Review Safety Plans Following District's First School Shooting

Jefferson County Public Schools and Louisville Metro Police plan to review school safety procedures following the shooting Tuesday of a student at Fern Creek High School.

“Schools are supposed to be safe," Superintendent Donna Hargens said at a news conference Wednesday.  "Normally, JCPS schools are safe."

Just after 1 p.m. Tuesday, a 16-year-old student allegedly shot a 15-year-old student on the third floor of the high school, according to police.  The school was evacuated by police shortly after.  The victim was rushed to University Hospital and is now in stable condition, police said.

The suspect, who has yet to be identified, was arrested around 4 p.m. Tuesday in an apartment near the school and now faces several charges, including first-degree assault.

It was the first school shooting in JCPS history, Hargens said.

Police, school district and city officials praised police who responded to the incident.

LMPD Deputy Chief Yvette Gentry said police had "for years" trained for a shooting incident in a school.

"Now that it has happened here, we will take the lessons from it and get better," Gentry said.

One question raised was on whether JCPS schools should have metal detectors to beef up security. Right now, only three alternative schools have them.

Hargens would not say if metal detectors may be added to schools someday.

“That isn’t normally the practice,” she said.  “You could slip a gun through a door or through something else.”

Gentry said metal detectors in schools “really changes the game up," but a number of options should be considered before the school district goes that route.

Gentry also praised the effort of the Fern Creek school resource officer.  She said the sheriff deputy that is stationed at the school successfully assessed the situation and put the school on lockdown within "two or three minutes."

"He did an outstanding job," she added.

Mayor Greg Fischer said the shooting is just the latest example of “reckless and cowardly use of guns in our society.”

“When did settling disputes with guns rather than simple dialogue become the method that people are tending to use these days,” he said.

On Tuesday, some Fern Creek students said they may not show up for class the next day.And some didn't. Student attendance at Fern Creek on Wednesday was about 80 percent, a spokeswoman said.  It is usually at least 90 percent.

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.

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