75°F
Sponsored by

WomensShowBooth285x85.jpg

One Year After Near-Tragedy, Normal Schools Applying Security Changes

Nearly one year ago, a Normal Community High School student brought a gun to school and fired shots into the ceiling. If not for the quick thinking of a teacher, it may have been a lot worse.
NORMAL- Nearly one year ago, a Normal Community High School student brought a gun to school and fired shots into the ceiling. If not for the quick thinking of a teacher, it may have been a lot worse.

Spencer Brittain can't forget Sept. 7.

"Someone walked in the locker room and said there's a guy with a gun. More people thought it was airsoft. So, everyone starting joking about it, like, 'why did he bring an airsoft gun to school'?"

But the gun was real.

"Most vivid is hearing the gun shots, hearing people screaming outside of the locker room, and then the dead quiet in the locker room where we stood," said Brittain.

Dr. Gary Niehaus has been normal's superintendent for seven years. He still can't believe those shots fired inside his school.

"I can tell you that nobody thought we were going to have a shooting a year ago," said Niehaus.

But the chaos of that morning could have been much worse. A teacher brought the shooting to an end by tackling the armed student.

"Without Derrick Shonauer's ability to understand and know what was going on in his classroom, just 12 days into his career, was a pretty phenomenal feat," said Niehaus.

Last year, students walked across the field to a nearby church in order to evacuate. This year, they say they're much more prepared in case of an emergency.

"We practice getting in a room, locking up and then evacuating to a safer place," said Brittain.

In place now are more security cameras, and a check-in area, once you go inside the doors of the schools. Plus, the relationship with local law enforcement is stronger than ever.

"We're able to allow them to get in on cameras and actually watch things as they approach the scene, which I think is a real big help to both them and us," said Niehaus.

One year after the near-tragedy, Niehaus is grateful that they've able to make changes for the better.

"That was a God moment. That was just a lucky day for us, a blessed day for us, and it could have been anything but that," said Niehaus.

Niehaus says he's checked on the security of five schools already this year, by sending random staff members to try to get inside. He says so far, his staff has all followed proper procedure and asked for identification and reasons why the guests are there.

Page: [[$index + 1]]
comments powered by Disqus