Student shot at Martinsville West Middle School
Morgan County - A Martinsville West Middle School student was shot and a former student is in custody after a shooting Friday morning.
Police say a male student was shot Friday morning just after 7:00 am at West Middle School in Martinsville. The shooting victim, who was identified by police as 15-year-old Chance Jackson, was taken by LifeLine helicopter to Methodist Hospital for treatment.
"I heard a loud bang," said Jackson's friend, Dustin Tatum. "Everybody was scared, people were crying, but it hurt me more to find out it was my friend."
Jackson was shot twice in the stomach, according to State Police. He underwent surgery for several hours and is currently in critical but stable condition.
Chance Jackson's family issued this statement at 1:00 pm:
"Chance Jackson is out of surgery and is currently in stable condition. We appreciate all of the thoughts, prayers and support and ask that you also pray for the families of all involved. Please respect our privacy as we focus on Chance's recovery."
The mayor's office confirms that the 16-year-old shooting suspect was taken into custody. He was questioned by police Friday afternoon.
The suspect was a former student at the school who was expelled last week. School officials would not give a reason for the expulsion. Family and friends say it was because the boy told a joke about a bomb threat at school.
"This student was no longer a student and should not have been on school property," said Assistant Superintendent Randy Taylor.
"The one that shot the kid was always getting in trouble and stuff, but the other kid was, like, quiet," said student Aaron McCarty.
Other students told Eyewitness News they had heard something about a knife involving the student.
At a news conference Friday afternoon, Taylor said counselors were available for students and teachers. All Martinsville schools dismissed early due to the shooting.
"We all hope that a situation like today would never happen, but unfortunately today it did. We had a plan in place and we carried out that plan keeping the well-being of our students as a top priority," said Taylor.
Police located the gun believed to have been used in the shooting. Police say they spoke to the suspect and said he was somewhat cooperative. They are investigating the suspect's Facebook page, which contained cryptic references to possible violence.
The school, which has about 600 students, was on lockdown all morning.
"I never seen anything like this before and they won't tell us anything. They won't release our kids," said grandparent Loretta Pittman.
"It's awful. In the middle of school, a child having a gun," said parent April Lambert.
"I'm just worried about my kid, wondering if she's okay," said parent Tammy Perry.
Police believe the shooting stems from a dispute that started at a school dance a few days ago.
"We do not have a motive as of yet. We do not know what caused this, what happened, what led up to these events. We are interviewing witnesses right now. Several different agencies have been called in, federal, state and local agencies have been assisting at the scene," said Sgt. Curt Durnil, Indiana State Police.
Indiana State Police interviewed witnesses at West Middle School. After police finished their interviews, students were bused to the school maintenance building at 840 South Ohio Street to be released to their parents from there.
Friends and family members have set up a prayer group for Jackson on Facebook.
Counseling available for residents
For families in the Martinsville area needing support following today's shooting, Centerstone, a community-based mental health provider, has a crisis line available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at (800) 344-8802.
Also, Centerstone will be offering a free walk-in clinic for Martinsville residents from 1-4 pm Monday, March 28, and Tuesday, March 29. Individuals and families can simply go to Centerstone's clinic at 1175 Southview Drive or call (765) 342-6616 for an appointment.