On Friday, a 15-year-old J.H. Rose High School student was found to be in the possession of a handgun by officers, and was charged with “having a weapon on school property and is currently in juvenile custody,” according to a press release from the Greenville Police Department (GPD).
According to the press release, school administrators and resource officers had received information involving a student who “may be in the possession of a gun.”
Following the findings, there was reported to be no ongoing threat to students or staff at J.H. Rose High School, according to the press release. Officers maintained an increased presence at the school throughout the day as “added reassurance.”
GPD Chief Mark Holtzman said via press release that he commended the school resource officers and administrators for their “swift actions in identifying” the student and recovering the weapon.
“While the Greenville Police Department is not aware of any direct threats made by the student toward others, our number one priority continues to be the safety and wellbeing of students and staff at the school (J.H. Rose High School),” Holtzman said in the press release.
East Carolina University Police Department’s Lieutenant Chris Sutton said, on the topic of gun safety, if someone is exhibiting concerning behavior such as making comments about hurting themselves or others, collecting weapons or ammunition, ECU PD should be contacted immediately Sutton said.
Everyone needs to be more proactive in these situations, Sutton said. He said sometimes individuals are concerned but they don’t follow up and notify the authorities. Sometimes authorities are aware of a situation but they don’t feel as though they have enough information to act, according to Sutton.
“Historically, in mass shooting situations there has been something that has happened with the individual, that there's been indicators along the way that people either saw and maybe they weren’t alarmed by them enough to the point where they were prompted to notify the authorities,” Sutton said.
ECU PD collaborates with the Greenville Police Department (GPD) in using ShotSpotters Sutton said. These devices are used all over the City of Greenville and monitor shots detected around campus. He said this has been helpful for GPD to identify shooters and shooter locations.
Students would receive an ECU Alert as soon as ECU PD are notified there is an active shooter, Sutton said. If campus goes into lockdown, those who are in a building the shooter is not in, would need to lockdown inside that building, he said. Most classrooms lock from the inside, according to Sutton.
The North Carolina state legislature passed a law in 2013 which said if someone is a concealed weapon permit holder, they can bring a handgun on campus but it must stay in their locked vehicle Sutton said. He said it would not be allowed to be kept in a backpack, dorm or faculty member’s office.
In the event of an active shooter situation, it is important individuals don’t try to use their firearm, Sutton said. The individual could be confronted by law enforcement, put themselves in danger or the responding officers in danger, he said.
ECU PD has officers train yearly on responding to active shooter situations, Sutton said. He said they also have an Emergency Response Team who would respond and has the equipment and training necessary to confront an active shooter.
“Run, Hide, Fight” is the national best practice in the event of an active shooter situation, Sutton said He said if someone is in a building and hears gunfire they should run away from the gunfire. If the only option is to hide they should put a barrier between themselves and the shooter by barricading doors, covering up windows or locking the door.
If the only option is to fight and “you refuse to be a victim” you must be committed when you fight, Sutton said. Anything you find you must use as a weapon such as a fire extinguisher, chair, or even three-hole punch, he said.
Chair of the ECU Student Safety Committee and senior political science and security studies double major, Blake Halsey said students should Run, Hide or Fight. Halsey said law enforcement is trying to push people to silence their cell phones if they are hiding in a safe location.
If a student, faculty or staff member seems to be having a mental health issue, ECU Cares can be contacted, Halsey said. Any suspicious behavior can be reported anonymously to ECU PD through the LiveSafe app, according to Halsey.
“If you see stuff in class, see something on Snapchat, Twitter (or) Facebook, you hear something in class talking about something alarming it's never too cautious to go ahead and report it and you can do that through the LiveSafe app,” Halsey said.