A 14-year-old boy who arrived at an Indiana middle school Thursday morning that was already on lockdown after a tip about potential violence shot out glass in a locked door and entered the school before exchanging gunfire with officers inside, authorities said.
The boy, who police said died inside the school from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, wasn’t a current student at Dennis Intermediate School in Richmond, said Indiana State Police Capt. Dave Bursten.
Bursten did not release additional information on the suspect or the weapon he used, but he said officials are extremely grateful that someone alerted them about the potential for violence.
That tip meant the school was on lockdown when the teen arrived around 8:20 a.m., Bursten said.
“We are very, very grateful for the person who made that call. Had they not made that call, there is no doubt in my mind that we would be having a much different conversation here right now,” he said at a news conference hours after the shooting. Bursten did not identify that caller.
No officers and no one else at the school were injured during the shooting in Richmond, which is near the Indiana-Ohio state line about 60 miles (96 kilometers) east of Indianapolis. The school has about 650 students from grades 5 through 8.
Bursten said that because of the tip, the responding officers “knew who they were looking for, they confronted him, he shot out the glass door, entered the school and the officers pursued.”
Richmond Police Chief Jim Branum told the Palladium-Item that police and school officials were notified that an armed person was heading to the school with the intention of hurting people.
Branum said the boy eventually ended up on the second floor of the school’s south stairwell, where there was an exchange of gunfire before the teen took his own life.
Bursten declined to release information about who had placed the call that tipped off authorities, but he said a local family is now suffering.
“There was a loss of life and that’s always a tragedy and we’re hopeful that that family can get through that, and we’re glad nobody else suffered,” he said.
The Palladium-Item reported that Indiana State troopers and officers with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives had gathered at a residence in Richmond believed to be the boy’s home. Crime-scene tape surrounded the front yard, which had an inflatable Santa and reindeer outside.
By 9 a.m., Richmond Community Schools had declared the school building secure. Students from the middle school were then bused to Richmond High School for parents to pick them up.
Richmond Mayor Dave Snow praised police officers and school officials for their quick, potentially life-saving actions, saying they “did everything right today.”
But he called the shooting “yet another example of gun irresponsibility, poor mental health awareness and access” that too often leads to youths committing school shootings.
“This is only going to continue until concrete action is taken so that guns do not fall into the hands of our kids,” Snow said. “The irresponsibility that leads to a child walking into a school with a gun is unacceptable.”