WINONA – An unloaded firearm was found at Winona Elementary School on Monday afternoon.
According to Dr. Teresa Jackson, Superintendent of Education for the Winona-Montgomery Consolidated School District, the weapon was brought to the school by a minor student. It was discovered around 2 p.m. by teachers, who were alerted by students that the child was in possession of a gun.
School administrators found the unloaded weapon, and the district’s school resource officer was called to the scene to investigate the matter along with Principal Tabatha McCrory. Jackson said no bullets nor a clip were found after an extensive search of the school.
Monday evening around 5 p.m., Jackson alerted all parents and staff of the incident via the district’s all-call voice mail system, as well as posted the information on the district’s website and social media pages.
“The student has been suspended pending a hearing,” Jackson said.
Since Monday’s incident, Jackson said the district is reinforcing its school safety protocols with students and staff.
“We lock the doors interior and exterior,” she said. “We have a buzz-in systems, hand-held metal detectors. It boils down to ‘if you see something, you say something.’”
Jackson said the students at Winona Elementary School did exactly what they were supposed to do.
“We are very proud of the students, and we held a meeting with all the students of that grade and commended them commended them for telling the adults on the playground,” she said.
Winona-Montgomery Consolidated School District employs its own police department, with certified police officers or school resource officers at each school.
“We have a lot of experience with our SRO,” Jackson said. “We have our own police department that works very closely with Winona Police Department and Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department.”
Mac Burrell, who is the chief of the district’s school resource officers, led the investigation into the matter. Dan Herod was recently hired as the new school resource officer at Winona Elementary School and will begin October 1.
With school safety protocol already in place, Jackson said the district is being more vigilant. However, the staff at the elementary school followed safety procedures in this incident.
“This has been difficult on our staff. We teach kids and take care of them,” she said. “They did exactly what they were supposed to do. They handled the situation very well, kept people calm, and followed protocol.”
Jackson said school safety is something the district works to improve year-round.
“This is something we will work on continuously,” she said. “This is not something that is done when the investigation ends.
Tuesday morning, counselors were made available for students and staff.
“What I was worried about most are our students and their families,” Jackson said. “They are going to be okay.”