(Posted Jan. 24, 2023)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
On Jan. 20, an anonymous tip led to the discovery of a loaded handgun in a student’s locker at London High School. School administrators found the weapon shortly after the tip came in at 12:40 p.m.
The weapon and the student, a 16-year-old male, were quickly secured, as were other individuals who might have had knowledge of the weapon’s presence on campus.
The London Police Department responded to the incident. School administrators, a police detective, and the department’s school resource officer, whose first day on duty at the London campus was Jan. 9, conducted an investigation.
In a joint press release issued later that day, the school district and the police department stated: “It was reported there was no intent known to use the weapon at the school. It was reportedly carried for protection outside of the school property.”
The school district and police determined the situation was an isolated incident with no other known threats. As such, they did not lock down the building.
The student who allegedly brought the weapon to school was detained and taken to the Central Ohio Youth Center pending charges of conveyance of a deadly weapon in a school safety zone. Dr. Lou Kramer, London City Schools superintendent, said the student faces suspension and possible expulsion.
“This is the first incident like this in my eight years as London’s superintendent,” Kramer said. “It’s a tough situation. Nobody wants to go through this. We’re blessed this situation resolved in the way it did.”
Kramer said he is pleased with the district’s response to the incident. Earlier this month, more than a dozen teachers and administrators completed a state-mandated safety training to learn how to identify and deal with potential threats to the school community.
“A week and a half later, we employed that exact training we received into this situation,” Kramer said. “We had staffers act decisively when given information and work quickly to make sure the firearm was secured and anyone associated with the incident was secured, and work diligently to have an idea of any other secondary safety issues.”
On Jan. 23, district administrators met with high school staff members to talk about the facts of the situation, review applicable safety protocols, and reflect on how those protocols were carried out in this instance. School leaders also planned to meet with students in small groups through the week. Kramer noted that student attendance was normal on Jan. 23.
Both the school district and the police department said the tipster was “critical in the safe resolution of this incident.” They said it is important to share critical information with authorities. “See something, say something is vital to community safety,” they stated in the press release.
“We really appreciate the fact that somebody had the courage to step up. That’s what really helps keep us all safe,” said Police Chief Glenn Nicol.
Tips can be reported directly to school staff, the school resource officer, or the police department. Kramer said he has received anonymous tips on his voicemail. Another resource is the Safer Ohio School Tip Line (844-723-3764), an anonymous reporting system that accepts texts or calls 24 hours a day. More information can be found at School Safety Tip Line.
Tips can be submitted to the London Police Department by calling (740) 852-1414 or using the department’s smartphone app (search for “London Police” in the app store). Tipsters can leave as much or as little information about themselves as they choose. For details, visit www.londonohio.gov/police-division.
Nicol added, “Our SRO (student resource officer) is working on developing relationships with students at the school so they feel comfortable telling him things. We already have a good relationship with the school district, and we’re hoping to add to it with this.”
Kramer commented, “The largest safety strategy that we have here within our district is fostering positive relationships with staff and students so they are empowered and trusting enough to confidently report information and know it will be followed up on.”
The investigation into the Jan. 20 incident is ongoing by the London Police with assistance from the Madison County Prosecutor’s Office and London City Schools.