All posts by Bruce Becker

South Carolina high school badly damaged in tornado

The Columbia State reports that North Central High School, a 500-student high school in Kershaw County and about 45 miles outside Columbia.

The timing of the tornado was fortunate; no one was present at the school Saturday night when the storm hit.

Students already were scheduled to have Monday and Tuesday off because of teacher work days. A nearby middle school was only minimally damaged by the storm, and students will be able to return there Wednesday.. No homes in the area of the school were reported damaged.

On Monday, school district officials and reclamation crews worked on assessing the damage, cleaning up debris and determining what materials could be saved.

[RELATED: A list of needs for teachers at North Central High.]

North Central teachers and staff got to work in their temporary home, a former district vocational center.

High school principal David Branham met with his staff Monday morning, as they “cried a little bit and laughed a little bit about everything going on.

“For a lot of our kids, (school) is the most stable place they have,” says Branham. “We may be in a different location, but we’re going to create the same kind of family atmosphere that our school is known for.”

The tornado hit with 130-mile-an-hour winds. It left a trail of damage at the 40-year-old school, including gaping holes in brick walls, smashed buses, busted windows, ripped ceilings, collapsed bleachers and debris strewn inside and outside the school.

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Three dead in murder-suicide at US school

A man walked into a school in southern California Monday and shot dead his estranged wife in front of her students, killing an eight-year-old boy in the crossfire before turning his gun on himself.

Police said local resident Cedric Anderson had checked into the office as a visitor after entering the campus in the city of San Bernardino and going to the special needs classroom, where he opened fire on Karen Elaine Smith, 53, as she was teaching.

Officers said Anderson, also 53, had only targeted Smith but two students were caught in the crossfire and one of them, Jonathan Martinez, died later in hospital.

“This does appear to have been a murder-suicide with both male adult and female adult victim succumbing to injuries, with the male succumbing to a self-inflicted gunshot wound,” Lieutenant Mike Madden of the San Bernardino Police Department told a news conference.

Police said initially the two wounded students had been listed as critical but later confirmed Martinez‘s death.

Students at North Park Elementary School — which has around 500 students between kindergarten and sixth grade — were transported to a nearby campus, where they were “having snacks, playing games and watching a Disney movie,” the police department tweeted.

Many panicked parents and relatives who rushed to the school had to endure waits of several agonizing hours before they could be certain that their child was not among the victims.

“I saw blood splashing on the wall. I ran as fast as I can. I lost a shoe,” one student told AFP.

An 11-year-old boy told AFP he was in the middle of a math test when he heard the gunfire.

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Police Shoot 2nd Teen in Wisconsin Schools in 2 Days

OSHKOSH, Wis. (AP) — A Wisconsin high school resource officer shot a 16-year-old student Tuesday after the boy stabbed him in his office, marking the second time in as many days that a school resource officer has been involved in a student shooting in the state.

Oshkosh Police Chief Dean Smith said he didn’t believe the officer or the student suffered life-threatening injuries. He said the officer shot the teenager once but that he didn’t know how many times the officer fired. The Wisconsin Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation is handling the investigation.

The incident took place around 9 a.m. at Oshkosh West High School, a school of 1,700 students. Smith said the student was in the officer’s office when they got into an “altercation.” The boy produced an “edged weapon” — Smith declined to elaborate — and stabbed the officer, who fired his 9-millimeter pistol. The officer then called for help.

It wasn’t clear what prompted the attack, with Smith deferring most questions to the investigation. Smith said the resource officer — like all resource officers in Oshkosh schools — is also a police officer.

The school was locked down, and parents later reunited with their children at a nearby middle school.

“Today’s tragic event shows that trained school resource officers can save lives,” Oshkosh School District Superintendent Vickie Cartwright said at a news conference.

An Oshkosh West student identified only as Evelyn told WLUK-TV that she was in class when she heard screaming and her teacher walked out.

“And then, like, after two minutes she ran back into the classroom and she was like, ‘Everybody needs to evacuate right now!’ And then we all ran out of the class and then we saw everybody from our school running to across the street.”

The shooting comes on the heels of another school shooting in suburban Milwaukee on Monday. A resource officer at Waukesha South High School, about 80 miles (130 kilometers) south of Oshkosh, confronted an armed student in a classroom. Another police officer shot the 17-year-old student when he refused to drop his weapon, police said.

Police in Waukesha said Tuesday that the student had pointed a pellet gun at another student’s head. The officer shot the student once in the leg and twice in the arm. The student was taken to a hospital where he was in stable condition Tuesday.

Waukesha Police Chief Russell Jack said the resource officer was able to remove many students from harm’s way.

“Most people run away from danger,” Jack said. “Law enforcement officers run towards danger, especially when someone is threatening our children.”

Linda Ager told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the Waukesha shooting happened in the classroom of her husband, Brett Hart, a special education teacher at Waukesha South. Ager said her husband restrained the student until the resource officer arrived.

School resource officers are typically sworn police officers assigned to patrol a school. No laws in Wisconsin lay out requirements for the job or restrict the types of weapons they can use.

The state Justice Department has adopted a set of best practices for the positions, however. They call for schools and police to set out officers’ responsibilities in memorandums of understanding, to identify what knowledge and skills such an officer needs and to identify under what circumstances the officer will respond to an incident. Officers should receive training on child development, restraint policies, de-escalation strategies, mental health and alcohol and drug use.

The standards closely mirror recommendations from the National Association of School Resource Officers. That group recommends officers act as police, teachers and mentors. They should have at least three years of experience, take a basic training course on how to police schools and complete biannual training on how a single officer should react to assailants or threats.

Rarely have resource officers prevented a school shooting. Last year, for example, armed guards at three high-profile school shootings — Marshall County High School in Benton, Kentucky; Majory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida; and Santa Fe High School in Texas — were unable to stop the rampage.

At a shooting at Great Mills High School in Maryland in March 2018, a school resource officer confronted a teen gunman who fatally shot a girl; the gunman killed himself. In Parkland, the school’s resource officer remained outside rather than enter the building to engage the shooter and try to stop it.

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This story has been corrected to show the investigating agency is called the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation, not the Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigation; and the student confronted a school resource officer, rather than a police officer confronted the armed student.

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NH elementary school closed because of flu outbreak

An elementary school in Washington has been shut down after several people tested positive for the flu.

School officials said Washington Elementary School was shut down Monday and will be closed Tuesday because most staff members are sick. Several students reported being ill, as well.

"We felt it would be in the best interest of everybody, both teachers and students, to close the school for the day," said Superintendent Robert Hassett.

Ten of the school's 45 students stayed home Friday with flu-like symptoms, Hassett said.

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Teen used ‘ghost gun’ in California high school shooting

The 16-year-old boy who fatally shot two fellow students and wounded three others last week at a Southern California high school used an unregistered, untraceable “ghost gun,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said Thursday.

Villanueva told media outlets that Nathaniel Berhow’s .45 caliber, 1911-model replica semi-automatic pistol was assembled from gun parts and did not have a serial number.

Such weapons are a growing problem for law enforcement around the country because the parts are easy to obtain and the guns take limited expertise to build. In Southern California, federal authorities say one-third of all the firearms seized are ghost guns.

California has among the strictest gun laws in the country, but they are based on traditional firearms that are made by manufacturers and labeled so ownership can be traced.

"Congress and state legislatures enact all these crimes about gun registration but now the gun industry is creating a way to just bypass the entire thing by creating a mechanism to manufacture weapons yourself," Villanueva said.

It’s legal to purchase gun kits and assemble them at home. That method allows the purchaser, sometimes a minor or other person prohibited from owning firearms, to avoid background checks required to purchase ready-made guns from licensed dealers.

Thomas Groneman, a detective sergeant with the Suffolk County Police Department in New York, said his agency built their own Glock-replica handgun from parts they ordered online as an experiment earlier this year.

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Teen SC school shooter gets life for killing 1st grader

A school shooter who was 14 when he killed a first grader on a school playground in South Carolina after killing his father in their home was sentenced Thursday to life in prison without parole.

Jesse Osborne targeted Townville Elementary School because he had spent seven years there. Prosecutors, who pushed for the life sentence, said the teen was familiar with the classroom layout and knew there was no police officer on campus.

Osborne crashed his father’s pickup truck into the fence on Sept. 28, 2016 and fired on first graders celebrating a classmate’s birthday. Uneaten cupcakes with the Batman logo were still seen inside police tape hours later.

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Santa Clarita Shooting Updates: Student Kills 2 at California High School

A 16-year-old student pulled a handgun from his backpack at a high school in Santa Clarita, Calif., on Thursday morning and shot five students, killing two, the authorities said. The gunman was in grave condition after shooting himself in the head, they said.

The suspect has not been identified, but the police said that he was a student at the school, Saugus High School, and that Thursday was his birthday.

The students who died were a 16-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy, the authorities said. The other victims, all injured by gunfire, were identified as a 14-year-old girl, a 15-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy.

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Secret Service study: School shooters showed warning signs

WASHINGTON (AP) — Most students that committed deadly school shootings over the past decade were badly bullied, had a history of disciplinary trouble and their behavior concerned others but was never reported, according to a U.S. Secret Service study released Thursday.

In at least four cases, attackers wanted to emulate other school shootings, including those at Columbine High School in Colorado, Virginia Tech University and Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

The study by the Secret Service’s National Threat Assessment Center is one of the most comprehensive reviews of school attacks since the Columbine shootings in 1999. The report looked in depth at 41 school attacks from 2008 through 2017.

The information gleaned through the research will help train school officials and law enforcement on how to better identify students who may be planning an attack and how to stop them before they strike.

“These are not sudden, impulsive acts where a student suddenly gets disgruntled,” Lina Alathari, the center’s head, said in an Associated Press interview. “The majority of these incidents are preventable.”

Nearly 40 training sessions for groups of up to 2,000 are scheduled. Alathari and her team trained about 7,500 people during 2018. The training is free.

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String of shootings at high school football games continues with 2 more teens injured

For at least the fifth week in a row, a shooting has taken place during a high school football game.

Two teens injured in Philadelphia are the latest victims in a string of shootings that have taken place at or near high school football games across the country.

A 15-year-old and a 14-year-old were shot Friday night during a football game at Philadelphia's Simon Gratz High School, according to Philadelphia ABC affiliate WPVI.

The sound of the gunshots sent people running across the field as the P.A. announcer called on spectators to evacuate.

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PSA brings powerful message to El Pasoans about school shootings

Sandy Hook Promise is sending a powerful message with a new PSA about school shootings.

We showed the video to El Pasoans to hear their thoughts on the message.

“That ad definitely triggers the emotions and it makes it more like ‘woah,’ you don’t think that your child would have to think ‘Oh, I have to protect mode,’” Chelsea Gevne said. “You don’t think that your 6-year-old is going to have to go to school and think, ‘Fight or flight’ or think that, ‘Oh, those scissors can protect me.’ You don’t want to think that.”

Gevne said she has already spoken with her young children about gun safety.

“I have to talk to them about why some people make bad choices and what they have to do to be able to protect themselves and maybe what they can do to keep at peace with themselves.”

“It makes me sad that our kids have to worry about things like that. They have to worry about themselves, about keeping in contact their families, about protecting others. I’d like to think that that’s something that we can do for them, so it’s kind of heartbreaking,” Kahryn Bastain said.

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