LMPD says officer fired at man who pointed rifle at JCPS elementary school

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville Metro Police say an officer fired twice at a man arrested near an elementary school Thursday afternoon who was spotted pointing a rifle at the building while children were in their classrooms earlier in the day.

Officers were were sent to 700 Ziegler Avenue around 11 a.m. Oct. 19 after reports of a man with a gun outside Shelby Traditional Academy, which is located at 735 Ziegler Street. 

In a release Friday, police say officers "responded to multiple reports of a man firing a weapon in the immediate vicinity of the school." Police have not said if they determined the man did shoot at the school.

An officer saw 21-year-old Rodrick Buchannon with a rile "pointed" at the school and "fearing for the safety of the school's occupants," fired his weapon twice, according to the press release. 

On Thursday LMPD officials initially confirmed that two men were arrested, but released few details, saying only that they responded to reports of a shooting and arrested two suspects who ran. 

On Friday, LMPD spokesman Sgt. John Bradley released the statement confirming that 4th Division Officer Emerich fired two shots at Buchannon, who fled. 

Allison Martin, a spokeswoman for Jefferson County Public Schools, said earlier Friday that no students were in danger. A note JCPS sent home with students said nothing happened on the school's campus and the security level was raised "as a precaution."

Shelby Traditional Principal Kim Goff told parents in the letter that she wanted to make sure parents had "accurate information to dispel any rumors you may hear about the situation." 

On Friday, the school sent an updated note to parents. In it, Goff said, "Police report and witnesses confirm there was a man with a gun in the vicinity of the school, and possibly on the property of the school."

Bradley says no one was injured in the incident, but Emerich has been placed on administrative leave until the Public Integrity Unit completes its investigation. 

Buchannon was arrested around 12:30 p.m. in a field in the 1400 block of Bland Avenue near East Hill Street. Police say he admitted he was carrying a gun police describe as a .22 caliber "AR style" rifle and pointing it at the school. 

According to the arrest slip, officers were sent to the school after receiving 911 calls reporting a man pointing a gun at the school. Police say security officers at the school saw a man fitting Buchannon's description "waving a rifle at the school building and classrooms in an assault type manner." 

The school security guard told police he became worried because the suspect was pointing the gun in the direction of classrooms with students inside. The school was placed on a Level IV heightened security as police searched for the suspect. 

Investigators say they believe Buchannon ran from the school as officers were arriving and ditched the gun along with his red bandanna, gray hoodie and black slippers in an attempt to change his appearance and avoid being captured. Police say he admitted to waving the gun at the school in an up-and-down motion.

He also allegedly told officers he was with another armed suspect. That person was not identified in the police report. 

Ashanti Terrell said she saw it happen. 

"The police just came out of nowhere, saying shots were fired," Terrell said. "And then they ran toward us, and a bullet went past my face. And they tackled us and told us to get on the ground. But I was telling them that we didn't know what was going on, that we were innocent bystanders."

"They started firing in the middle of the street, like 'pow! pow! pow!'" Terrell said. "I almost died. I heard the bullet go, 'phew!' past my ear."

Meanwhile, students inside the school were told to stay away from windows.

"We were supposed to go to the corner, which had the tables," Annabelle Baldwin said. "A lot of the kids were, like, under the table, and some of them were crying.

"I was standing there thinking those windows better be bulletproof."

The heightened security was lifted at Shelby Traditional Academy around 1 p.m. Parents and grandparents picking up their students at the end of the day said the incident had their children scared. 

"They were all kind of still shocked and frightened to even come out of the school," Rebecca Baldwin said. 

Buchannon was in court Friday where he pleaded not guilty to charges of wanton endangerment, tampering with physical evidence, unlawful possession of a weapon on school property and fleeing or evading police.

He is being held at Louisville Metro Corrections on a $250,000 cash bond. 

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Two people in custody after reports of shots fired near JCPS school

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