Olathe, Kan. — A lot of questions remain following Friday’s shooting inside an office at Olathe East High School, but one thing is for certain. The Olathe School District’s superintendent said the support students and staff have received has been amazing.
“The outcry of support from our community, not just our community honestly the nation, for what’s happened at Olathe East has been incredible,” Dr. Brent Yeager, Olathe Superintendent, said. “And you think about meals, you think about therapists coming from all over this city to support our students and staff, you think about every elected official that you can think of has reached out to us to ask what to you need, how can we help?”
Hours after the shooting Friday, students from other schools called for an “Orange Out” at basketball games Friday night to support Olathe East. That support continued Wednesday when students at other schools wore orange and blue.
Even with all the support, the shooting remains at the forefront for many students and staff. Superintendent Yeager said he was in a meeting when he learned what had happened.
“We got a call that said there were shots fired at Olathe East so our team jumped into action very quickly and figured out very quickly what we’d always practiced for, but never actually had to do and that was how to support Olathe East and our community,” Yeager said during an interview Wednesday.
He said the concern was immediately for the students and staff inside the high school. That concern turned into a massive emergency response.
“Every single person involved in law enforcement, I think in a 100-mile radius, was there in about 6 seconds. So grateful for that. The first responders and MedACT and everybody that came to support our students and our staff so quickly,” Yeager said.
“It was a wild scene, but gosh, I never felt more grateful to be in the city and circumstances in terms of the support we have than I did that morning,” Yeager said.
Elmore was charged with attempted capital murder in the shooting.
The Olathe Police Department is investigating the shooting to determine exactly what happened and how the gun ended up on campus.
“From what we can tell in this situation, our staff members, our students, they responded exactly as they should have. I think it’s fairly widely known out there that it was a student reporting the situation initially that led administrators to follow up and that kinda thing. And that’s exactly how it should work,” Yeager said.
The Olathe School District said it will conduct its own investigation when the criminal investigation is complete. The district plans to look at procedures and protocols to determine what worked and if changes need to be made.
“We had gunshots in a school that has 2,000 kids in it. I think fundamentally I’d love to be able say no one was in danger, but we clearly know that wasn’t the case,” Yeager said.
According to the superintendent, while there are still questions about certain aspects of what happened, Olathe East’s school resource officer did what he needed to do.
“What I do know is when he was called to the situation and there was a clear threat that you know he also took action based on the preparation and training that he had,” Yeager said. “I suspect over the next few weeks we’ll learn more about his specific actions and those kinds of things, but I’m beyond grateful that he was there that day and that we’ve had that relationship with our local police department for years and years. Had an SRO not been there that day, we could have been in a different situation.”
Yeager said in the coming days the school district plans to add a section to its website. The section will include answers to a list of frequently asked questions, including why schools in the district do not have metal detectors at each entrance.
He said it’s been studied multiple times, but safety experts the district works with determined to use other safety measures instead.
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