Washington school officials review safety after gun incident

November 20, 2013
Jim McNutt / Observer-Reporter Washingtn High School was on lockdown Tuesday afternoon as students were led out classroom by classroom to waiting parents outside the school in Washington.

Washington School District and city police officials praised teachers, staff members and a resource officer for how they reacted when a ninth-grade student allegedly brought a gun into the high school Tuesday afternoon.

School officials met at the high school Wednesday to review the situation, discuss how to improve the district’s emergency plan and offer counseling to students or teachers affected by the ordeal.

“I have to say there were very few (problems),” Washington School District Superintendent Roberta DiLorenzo said. “It went exceptionally well. Our staff was trained, and (Wednesday) morning the staff reported the training was very beneficial. In our review, we did discuss some minor technical stuff.”

Washington police said Nathaniel Eisel, 17, of Extension Avenue, had a handgun in his pocket when it fell out during a playful scuffle with a student in the school’s hallway. Another student saw the handgun and told a teacher, prompting the school to be put on lockdown shortly before 3 p.m. Students later evacuated the junior-senior high school and were dismissed about 4 p.m. No one was injured.

Police charged Eisel as a juvenile with disorderly conduct, a firearms violation and risking a catastrophe.

DiLorenzo said there have been past disciplinary problems with the accused student and that he faces expulsion.

Washington police Chief Chris Luppino praised the school and Officer Todd Foreman, who has been patrolling the school hallways for the past decade, for his quick action to control the situation.

“We train to respond to these situations,” Luppino said. “We do review the response, but there’s really nothing additional. We were happy with the response and happy with how the school handled things.”

Counselors were at the high school Wednesday to assist students and faculty who suffered emotional trauma from the situation, although DiLorenzo was not aware if anyone had sought assistance. The district has also contacted Washington Hospital to offer additional support to employees.

DiLorenzo said drills helped prepare the students and teachers, but some people in loud areas of the school, such as the LGI room, gymnasium and music hall, could not hear the emergency announcement. She expects louder speakers or an emergency warning alarm will be installed in noisy areas.

She said the district might also investigate whether to assign a staff member to become a communications liaison to parents and guardians during an emergency.

“Parents want information, but safety and security are our first responsibility,” DiLorenzo said.

Mike Jones has been a news reporter since 2005, covering crime, state and municipal government, education and energy. In addition to working at the Observer-Reporter, he also has spent time at the Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail and Patch.com. He holds a journalism degree from West Virginia University.

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