Greenfield school on alert after gunman snaps picture
St. Michael's Catholic School in Greenfield is on heightened alert after an unidentified gunman walked into Sunday's 10:30 Mass and snapped a picture before exiting.
A church spokesman tells Eyewitness News that parishioners became concerned after an usher reported seeing the man putting away a gun. No one inside the church got a picture of the man. The usher called police and told them the man walked away.
The question now is, "Did the man break the law by bringing a gun to a church, which some say is on school property?"
An email was sent out to parents of St. Michael's School Sunday night alerting them to the incident and informing them that the "red alert" safety plan would be in force throughout the school day.
Some parents told Eyewitness News they were afraid to send their children to school. It's unclear how many children did not report for classes. Those who did attend were not allowed to have recess outside.
Police, parents and school officials all agree that they can't afford to ignore what happened in light of the recent school shootings across the country.
Under close watch, students at St. Michael's wasted no time getting to and from buildings Monday.
According to the email sent by church officials, an unidentified man "was in church taking pictures of the exists and also was noticed to have a gun."
"I was horrified. Absolutely horrified. We know these things happen in the state of our world, but you always feel safe where you are in a small community like this," said Deanna Wesley who has a son at St. Michael's.
A church usher reportedly saw the man putting the gun into his pocket as he walked away.
The individual is described as a white mail in his 20s wearing a red t-shirt with the words "Tap Out" on the front and white shorts. He also has tattoos on his left forearm.
No one could explain his peculiar behavior and, worse yet, no one knew if he planned to return. Those unanswered questions prompted Deanna Wesley to keep her son home for half the day.
"I think it's every parent's greatest fear," explained WesIey. "I didn't want to bring my son until I knew there were real, real precautions being taken."
The principal at St. Michael's says 17 students failed to show up for class Monday morning, despite on-going police patrols during the drop-off and pick-up periods.
In her email, she wrote, "I know that this can be a scary thing for everyone."
A spokesman at the Archdiocese of Indianapolis says there's never been a threat made to this church before this incident.
While Greenfield police are investigating, Chief John Jester can't say what, if any, crime has been committed. Individuals with valid permits can carry guns to church, but firearms are off-limits on school property.
The big question: Is the church on school grounds?
"If the law takes the stance that it's a church, then there's probably not a law that's been broken yet. You're allowed to carry a gun and you're allowed to take photographs," explained Jester.
But for the church and school it's unnerving enough to cancel outdoor recess as police try to learn more about the man and his motives.
"If it was something innocent, come forward and say, 'I was just there, I took a picture for some other reason'," implored Wesley. "It's the unknown that's so scary.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Greenfield Police at 317-477-4410.