Student brought loaded handgun to Highlands High School, police say

Other students turned him in
Posted at 2:38 PM, Aug 29, 2016

FORT THOMAS, Ky. - Students and faculty at Highlands High School will notice increased security Tuesday after the juvenile student who brought a loaded .38-caliber handgun to school Monday was caught.

Around 1:12 p.m. Monday, several students reported to school officials that the student was showing off the gun. Officials immediately located, removed and searched the student and found the gun in his possession, according to Fort Thomas police Lt. Richard Whitford.

"We praise these students for coming forward. It could have been a tragedy. I have no idea what could have potentially happened," Whitford said at an afternoon news conference.

Students and staff were never threatened by the teen with the gun, according to an email sent to parents by Gene Kirchner, superintendent of Fort Thomas Independent Schools.

The Highlands student has been charged with unlawful possession of a weapon on school property. In Kentucky, that's a Class D felony and carries a sentence of one to five years, Whitford said.

The student response contrasted with the February shooting of two students at Madison Jr./Sr. High Schoolin Butler County, Ohio. In that case, police said the eighth-grade shooter showed the gun to several students ahead of time,  but they didn't report it.

Kirchner applauded the Highlands students and staff who were involved.

"Everyone involved in this situation followed proper emergency procedure protocol to ensure the safety of all students and staff," Kirchner said. "We are thankful for the bravery of the students who came forward to report this incident."

Whitford called it "an isolated incident" but added that there would be "an increased police presence" at the school.

In 1994, another Northern Kentucky high school student killed his family, then brought a gun to school and held his classmates hostage in their first-period trigonometry class.

Clay Shrout, a 17-year-old student at Ryle, shot his parents and two sisters in their home before dawn and forced his prom date to drive him to school.

He held his classmates at gunpoint for about 15 minutes and then surrendered without firing a shot. He was sentenced to 25 years to life and is eligible for parole in 2019.