Local officials have a new awareness of violence in schools and terrioristic activities. Area law enforcement and school personnel attend a two day training course at the Webster Parish School Board in efforts to better secure area schools and be prepared in the event of a school shooting.
"School shootings date back to the 1700s," said Joe Mann, an agent with Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Homeland Security.
According to an online source, the earliest known United States shooting to happen on school property was the Pontiac's Rebellion school massacre on July 26, 1764, where four Lenape American Indians entered the schoolhouse near present-day Greencastle, Pennsylvania, shot and killed schoolmaster Enoch Brown, and killed nine or 10 children (reports vary). Only three children survived.
"An active shooter is a suspect whose activity is immediately causing death and serious bodily injury and the activity is not contained and there is immediate risk of death and serious injury to potential victims," Mann said.
He stated the average age of a shooter is 14 to 15 years old. Suspects may be mentally deranged or motivated by political or religious agendas. He also pointed out that nine of 10 shooters have mental issues.
Teachers and school personnel were told to be aware of signs to look for in students such as violent type drawings, behavior in and out of the classroom and single-parent issues at home.
"They are hollering out for help, but sometimes we don't see them," Mann said.
Mann stressed that communication is key. He advised if parents were in the situation where their child's school was in a shooting, to communicate to emergency responders and listen to what is being said.
"Teachers in a post shooting event should stay inside classrooms, put desks or large items in front of the doors, keep students calm, turn cell phone ringers off and use anything that could be used as a possible weapon if necessary," Mann said.
Mann posed the question to the training class, "Should we have teachers with guns in schools?"
"Properly trained, I believe so," said Minden Police Chief Steve Cropper.
Mann explains what he means by properly trained.
"If you have a license permit and go through a background (check), be trained by a law enforcement official, know the gun inside and out and go to the range as often as you can. Training is the key," Mann said.
In response to the use of School Resource Officers, Mann said he understands the budget constraints that school districts face. However, he believes the community and parents will rally, if asked, when the time comes to give financial support, so that there can be a School Resource Officer in each school.
"There are people out there that will bring forth the money, if you have the desire to make your school better," Mann said.
Agencies from the Webster Parish Sheriff's Office, Minden Police Department, Webster Parish 9-1-1, school personnel, Minden Fire Department and others were represented at the meeting.