Authorities said with 29 horrified students watching, a West Virginia high school teacher managed to calm a 14-year-old student who pointed a gun at her in her classroom, which gave a police chief time to arrive and convince the boy to free his peers and surrender.
No one was injured on Tuesday in the hostage-taking situation that shook a high school in the small Appalachian town of Philippi, some 115 miles south of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. According to state police Lt. Michael Baylous it began after 1 p.m. Tuesday with the student taking a pistol into a second-floor classroom at Philip Barbour High School.
The student wouldn’t say what led him to take hostages, citing an ongoing investigation. Even though he allowed the teacher to remain anonymous, Barbour County Schools Superintendent Jeffrey Woofter gave her credit for maintaining control just when classes were about to change.
Woofter also credited the local police chief for getting to the scene quickly and talking the suspect into giving up. The teacher talked the boy out of allowing the next group of students to enter the classroom.
Another teacher was alerted by those students, school administrators were then notified and they called 911. Meanwhile, the rest of the 724-student body was safely evacuated to the bleachers of the football stadium, where they awaited rides home.
According to Woofter, Philippi Police Chief Jeff Walters negotiated the release of the students from the classroom and a few hours after it began he got the suspect to surrender. Barbour County Prosecutor Leckta Poling said she plans to pursue unspecified charges against the suspect, who was taken to a hospital for evaluation.
Poling said that due to the fact that the case involves a juvenile, the court process would be closed. The student has not been identified by police.
Woofter, a former sheriff who started his new job as schools superintendent on July 1, credited parents for following police warnings to stay away from the school. State Police Capt. Dave Reider said on Wednesday there will be an increased police presence at the school.
Reider said the school will be open but the start of classes will be delayed by two hours.
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