LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – When a Louisville Metro Police Department school resource officer assigned to Valley High School showed up to work on April 15, he said he found someone had tried to pry open a side door and left a “ballistic” vest wedged in, according to court testimony.
The next day, the school resource officer, Tony Sacra, testified, he saw 18-year-old student Shunka Campbell at about noon standing across the street from Valley High School with a loaded handgun in his pocket and 50 rounds of ammo.
“He was walking toward Valley High School,” Sacra testified. “I stopped him to investigate ... .”
Sacra's testimony Friday in Jefferson District Court is the first in-depth comments police have made about the incident, which some feared could have been a potential school shooting.
Sacra said he found the vest while following up on "possible shooter threat” from April 12, when a teacher saw Campbell in a hallway at the high school watching a “machine gun video” on his cell phone.
Campbell was told the video was "inappropriate" in a school setting and responded by telling a teacher that she needed to be more concerned about the gun he currently had in his backpack, rather than the one he was watching in the video, according to police.
No weapon was found at the time but Campbell was suspended for five days.
On Friday, Sacra provided more details on the case, including that Campbell had purchased an AK-47 on April 10 at Knob Creek Gun Range in Hardin County, according to his testimony in Jefferson District Court.
Campbell is facing numerous charges, including terroristic threatening and carrying a concealed deadly weapon without a permit as well as robbery and wanton endangerment in another case. He has pleaded not guilty and is lodged in Metro Corrections on a $100,000 cash bond.
After finding the vest, Sacra said police reviewed surveillance video showing someone on April 13 at the school setting a gun down on the ground, trying to pry a door open and leaving the vest.
A separate surveillance video shows two people walking away from the school, Sacra testified. Neither has been positively identified.
Because of the alleged threat and then the ballistic vest being placed at the school, police began looking for Campbell, according to Sacra.
He was seen April 16 standing across the street from Valley High School with a loaded handgun in his pocket and 50 rounds of ammo, Sacra said.
Campbell told Sacra he had just left a store and was going to a gun range. Sacra testified that the gun range Campbell was talking about was closed that day. The gun range was more than 8 miles away from where Campbell was at the time.
Another student came up to the scene and told police that Campbell was coming to the school to meet him.
At Campbell’s home, police found an AK-47 rifle, two fully loaded magazines on a coffee table and drugs, Sacra said.
Online photos posted by Campbell showed him with several weapons and large amounts of money, Sacra testified.
Campbell has 35 pages of disciplinary history at the school, Sacra said.
Campbell’s attorneys argued in court and in an interview with WDRB News Tuesday that this case is being overblown and the teen was not a threat.
“There was no intention that he was going to harm anyone, a teacher or a staff member at Valley High School,” defense attorney John Olash said in an interview. “This is all suspicion and speculation and fear driven.”
Under cross examination from Olash and co-counsel Rob Eggert, Sacra acknowledged in court that Campbell made no threats to the school online and he has not been positively identified as the person in the surveillance video leaving the ballistic vest at the school.
Olash said the statement made to the teacher about Sacra having a gun in his backpack was “flippant,” not terroristic threatening. He noted Campbell was not charged at the time, just suspended, and police were not called.
And he was never found with a weapon on school property.
“There is no evidence he intended to go to Valley High School,” Olash told District Court Judge Jessica Moore.
Assistant County Attorney Emily Weatherholt argued, however, that all the evidence taken together – weapons found on Campbell and at his home, pictures he posted online, the ballistic vest and his comment to a teacher – clearly show he was a serious threat.
“We’re just lucky the police apprehended him when they did,” she said during the hearing.
Sacra said Campbell’s cell phone was taken by the Secret Service and he does not know what has been found on it.
Sacra testified that shells from the AK-47 Campbell bought matched those fired in an incident that took place just before 2 a.m. on April 11. Police say Campbell met another teen at his home on Whipple Road, near Castle Road, to buy a pair of shoes worth roughly $200.
But instead of making the purchase, police say Campbell grabbed both the shoes and the money and sped away in a waiting car.
Campbell allegedly dropped something at the scene and returned a short time later to get it. That's when police say the teen’s mother spotted Campbell and chased him, but Campbell fired a shot before escaping.
Sacra testified Campbell came back a third time, again searching for something, and again fired several shots.
Judge Moore agreed on Friday there was enough evidence to waive the case to a Jefferson County grand jury for possible indictment.
In addition, Weatherholt said Campbell is repeatedly calling students at the school from jail and asked that his phone privileges be taken away.
Moore told Campbell to only call his attorneys and family and she would revoke his phone privileges, if he talked with anyone else.
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