Administrators and SRO respond quickly to threat of violence at Sailorway

By Melanie Williamson

On Tuesday, October 23, Sailorway Middle School students, teachers, and administrators were preparing to participate in a district-wide evacuation drill, which involved every student leaving the school and walking to a secondary location. This type of drill requires a great deal of preparation and practice to ensure that in the event of a real emergency, all students can be safely moved away from the campus.

In the midst of this, three students reported to Sailorway Middle School Assistant Principal Robert Figuly that they heard another student stating that he was going to “shoot up the school.” According the police report of the incident, the student in question was immediately removed from the school.

Meanwhile, an investigation was conducted interviewing the students that made the initial complaint as well as other students that were in the classroom at the time.  According to the police report, multiple students stated they heard him say he was going to shoot up the school and kill himself. He then allegedly walked around his classroom telling students not to come to school the next day and listing the names of students he planned to kill. The parents of each student named was informed of the incident. Other students stated that at times he seemed upset, but other times seemed to be laughing about the whole thing.

When SRO Brian Beckwith spoke to the student about the incident, he reported said that he stated he was going to kill himself but never said he was going to shoot anyone. Officer Beckwith reported that the student went on to say he was angry because the girl he liked turned him down stating “that’s why I said that.” When Beckwith asked him what he said, he responded that he didn’t say anything. It was reported to Officer Beckwith that the student was emotionally disturbed.

Officer Beckwith contacted the Erie County Prosecutor’s Office to discuss the situation and it was recommended that the student be charged with Aggravated Menacing and Inducing Panic. Officer Beckwith filed both charges and transported the young man to the Erie County Detention Center. According to Section 2903.21 of the Ohio Revised Code, aggravated menacing is defined as when “an accused person knowingly causes an alleged victim to believe that the accused will cause serious physical harm to the alleged victim or to his or her property.” Section 2917.31 of the Ohio Revised Code defines inducing panic as “threatening to commit any offense of violence.”

Superintendent Phil Pempin stated that in this type of situation, a fast response to ensure the safety of all students is the first priority, which is why immediately after the initial complaint was made, the student was removed from the school and SRO Beckwith was contacted. School administrators worked with Officer Beckwith to ensure that every student in the classroom at the time of the alleged threat was interviewed and parents were contacted. Pempin also stated that all threats are taken seriously, and the police are involved in every investigation.

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