Police: Teen exchanged gunfire with officers before apparent suicide

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Indiana State Police released more information Thursday afternoon (Dec. 13) about a fatal shooting at Dennis Intermediate School on Richmond’s west side.

The active shooting incident at about 8 a.m. Thursday has resulted in the death of the teenage suspect, according to ISP.

The dispatch center for Richmond Police Department alerted area law enforcement agencies of a potential violent act that could occur at Dennis Intermediate School.

Officers from multiple agencies responded to the school, which had already been placed on lockdown. As officers arrived, they confronted the teenage suspect outside the school who then reportedly shot out the glass of a locked entry door to the school, and ran inside with police officers in pursuit, said Capt. David R. Bursten, ISP’s chief public information officer, in a news release.

The suspect, once in the school, and being pursued, exchanged gunfire with police officers, police said.

The teenage suspect died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. No officers were injured, and it has not been determined if the suspect was wounded by police, the release said.

“It is important to emphasize that due to the result of advance notification of the potential for a violent act at the school, the school had initiated their lockdown procedure which clearly prevented injury to students and faculty even though the suspect was able to enter the school,” the release said.

No other students or police were reported to be injured in the incident at 222 N. W. Seventh St., ISP said.

Richmond Community Schools had posted on social media that all schools in the district were on lockdown at about 8:30 a.m.

RCS followed a regular school day schedule for its other buildings, but afternoon preschool classes were canceled. Announced school dismissal times will remain the same.

Whitewater Broadcasting reported that Dennis students were being accounted for and transported to Civic Hall Performing Arts Center at Richmond High School to be dismissed to their parents. Parents need to show identification when picking up their students.

Indiana State Police Sgt. John Bowling, the local district’s public information officer, is expected to provide more information this afternoon. Stories about the incident can be found on websites for national and international media organizations such as CNN and the Chicago Sun-Times.

Statements from state, local officials

“The incident at Dennis Intermediate School earlier today is frightening, and my prayers and thoughts are with the students and their families, teachers and staff,” said State Sen. Jeff Raatz, R-Richmond. “I am pleased with the work of our law enforcement, who selflessly stepped in to protect our community. My office will continue to monitor the issue as it unfolds.”

A statement from Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick said, ““Today a shooting at an Indiana school occurred. State Superintendent Dr. Jennifer McCormick is in contact with the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, the Indiana State Police, and Governor Holcomb and is actively monitoring the situation. We have full confidence in Richmond Community Schools’ Superintendent Todd Terrill and his team, law enforcement, and first responders. The Department stands ready to provide guidance and support, and we will provide further statements as information unfolds.”

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb has offered the following statement: “Earlier this morning, I directed the Indiana State Police to work with all local responders at the shooting at Dennis Intermediate School. We will continue to work with the school and Superintendent Jennifer McCormick to do everything possible to assist the community and support all those impacted by this terrible unfolding situation.”

Communities in Schools of Wayne County shared this statement: “We are heartbroken for the students and community of Dennis Intermediate School and Richmond Community Schools. In the midst of this tragedy, we encourage students to seek a caring adult to process emotions with.”

CIS has a full list of CIS site coordinators available at www.CISWayneCo.org/our-team. These staff members are stationed in local schools, prepared and equipped to help students succeed.

Parents are asked to call their student’s school and ask for the CIS site coordinator to learn more and get their child involved with the program to receive anything from mental health and other social services to food, clothing, school supplies, personal hygiene items or other supplies at no cost to the family.

Reaction from other nearby schools
Wayne County’s Head Start classrooms will be open Thursday afternoon, according to a post on social media. “Our classrooms are always locked. Please be assured that your children are safe when they are in our care. If you have any questions, please call 966.7733 ext. 245!”

In a statement posted on social media, Northeastern Wayne Schools extended its profound sympathy to the Dennis Middle School students and their families as a result of Thursday’s events.

As a result of the tragedy, Northeastern has implemented a lockdown at its school system as both a preventative measure as well as to calm its students. Northeastern has one school resource officer on our campus who has assisted administration officials in handling the impact and fallout of what has occurred.

Northeastern has students at the Richmond Area Career Center at Richmond High School that have been confirmed are safe and in lockdown at their building. They will return to Northeastern’s campus later today. In the meantime, Northeastern is maintaining limited access to its buildings until further notice.

“We appreciate the understanding and patience of our students and parents and guardians while we continue to assess what steps Northeastern has to take at this time,” the statement read.

Regularly scheduled activities at Northeastern, including extracurricular activities, will continue to take place today.

Social media posts from local residents and organizations expressing their their shock and sadness are plentiful.

Indiana University East has posted on Facebook: “Our thoughts are with Dennis Middle School and Richmond Community Schools. We extend our greatest thanks to the Richmond Police Department and Wayne County Sheriff’s Department, and other local law enforcement agencies, for keeping everyone safe.”