South Harrison students urged to report plans for violence after five arrested for threats

ELIZABETH, Ind. (WDRB) – More than a week after five high school students in the South Harrison Community School Corp. were arrested after allegedly threatening a shooting at Corydon Central High School, district and community officials urged students Friday to share any information that could stop attacks before they happen.

It was part of a wide-ranging forum on school safety at South Central Junior- Senior High School, and Harrison County Sheriff Rod Seeyle told students that they are “the most valuable resource” in preventing others from carrying out threats.

Seeyle said his office plans to open a tip line through money seized from drug traffickers and hire more school resource officers in the district.

“The most important thing that we want to tell you all is if you know something, say something,” he said. “We will follow up with it.”

That’s what happened at Corydon Central after students who saw an ominous threat on Snapchat reported it to the school’s resource officer.

Corydon Central junior Brady Kuchenbrod said passing along potentially lifesaving information has always been important, but recent shootings at Marshall County High School in Benton, Ky., and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., that killed 19 students in all have made it even more critical.

What might have been brushed off as a joke in the past isn’t a laughing matter anymore, he said.

“It was a looser thing, and then now that it’s been happening more, people are seeing how serious it is and how you shouldn’t joke about it,” Kuchenbrod told WDRB News.

Panelists also offered their thoughts on arming school personnel in response to the recent shootings, something that’s been discussed nationally as a possible way to stop shooters before police can respond.

 Seeyle and Indiana state Rep. Karen Engleman, R-Georgetown, said that should be up to school districts to decide.

School districts that choose to put weapons in teachers’ hands must be careful to pick the right people and give them rigorous training, Seeyle said.

“Quite frankly, there are a lot of teachers that probably wouldn’t make very good police officers, and I can tell you that there are a lot of police officers that wouldn’t make good teachers,” he said. “So you have to identify people that have the background and the mindset to be able to participate in that, and then you also have to train them.”

But South Central Junior- Senior High School Principal Mark Black, who served in the military, said while he would be comfortable handling a firearm in emergency situations if tasked with that duty, others who work in the school might not.

The prospect of weapons in his school would also be a concern, he said.

“I would worry about whether or not they’re going to make those same decisions, so I’m not necessarily 100 percent comfortable with that concept yet,” Black said.

Junior student Madeline Riley shared those misgivings, although she said she would feel safe with armed personnel with a military background like Black carrying a firearm in school.

“Some of the people that have never really had any guns or used any training with guns in their life, that would make me nervous,” she said, noting that a teacher with a firearm might be overtaken by a student in an emergency.

Reach reporter Kevin Wheatley at 502-585-0838 and Follow him on Twitter @KevinWheatleyKY.

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