JACKSON TOWNSHIP, OH (WOIO) - Hundreds of cars lined the streets of Jackson Township's Memorial Middle School Tuesday, as a sea of parents waited outside to be reunited with their loved ones inside.
Just several moments before 8 a.m., a seventh grade male student arrived to the school by bus and shot himself in the boy's bathroom with a .22 rifle.
Authorities say the boy also had distraction devices in his book bag. The student's condition and name is not being released at this time.
Students remained on lockdown, tucked away in their positions for nearly four hours as parents waited outside. Shortly after noon, students were dismissed 10 at a time. Parents were contacted about when to arrive to the school and what documents like state and government issued IDs to bring with them.
Many parents were able to communicate with their children through their electronic devices, while others were left wondering if their child was okay. The answer is "yes," their children were physically OK, but fears later shifted towards mental health after being in lockdown for so long.
Throughout the day, law enforcement from the Stark County Sheriff's Office, Jackson Township police, Ohio State Highway Patrol and the school's superintendent updated the media via two press conferences, news releases, and social media postings. Some parents attended the two press conferences, voicing anger that communication to parents about what had happened was delayed and unclear.
Just about a half mile down the road, a home in the 8000 block of Daytona Avenue was searched by the FBI and local police. It was the home of the young man who had shot himself at the high school.
A neighbor who lives in the same duplex reported to Cleveland 19 that the mother and her kids moved into the unit just two summers ago and there was never anything unusual seen or heard.
Meanwhile, back at Memorial Middle School, faculty members reopened their doors Wednesday in hopes of providing a sense of normalcy. School grief counselors will be available and the Jackson Local Schools superintendent understands if parents wish to keep their kids at home.
Several big questions remain unanswered:
- Where did the child get the rifle?
- How did no one see it on the school bus or walking into the school?
- What was this student's motive and were there other students involved?
- How will the school be any safer than it was tomorrow?
Those are all questions that no one from any law enforcement agency could answer late Tuesday afternoon.
We will continue to ask questions, searching for answers.