Police responded Wednesday morning to a shooting that Mattoon High School in Illinois, that left one student wounded and another in custody, the school district says.
“Mattoon Police Department has responded to an active shooter at MHS,” a message on the district’s website read.
The shooting was first reported about 11:30 a.m. at the high school in Mattoon, which is in Coles County in central Illinois. The shooting occurred in the school’s cafeteria, authorities said. The gunman, a student, opened fire before he was detained by a teacher, Angela McQueen.
“One person in custody. CRT (Crisis Response Team) has been dispatched as well. The scene is secured per Deputy Chief of Police. Officers are still on scene securing the school and clearing students out. Still stay clear of the area,” Coles-Moultrie County 911 said in a Facebook post. “Everyone stay away from the area until further notice. Officers are securing the scene and investigating.”
Two students were wounded, one was shot multiple times, and is expected to be OK. The other was grazed by a bullet, suffering an injury to his knuckles, police said.
This story is still developing. Here is what we know so far:
1. A Teacher Disarmed & Detained the Gunman, Who Is a Student at the School, Police Say
“Lives were saved by the quick response of a teacher,” Police Chief Jeff Branson told reporters at a press conference. Branson said the teacher was trained, but “You just don’t know what’s going to happen until it’s happened.” He said if it weren’t for the teacher, “I think the situation would have been a lot different.”
The shooter was initially described as a white male with a white T-shirt and a shotgun, according to 911 callers The shooting is believed to have occurred inside the school in the cafeteria area, according to police scanner reports. The teacher who stopped the shooter has not been identified. The gunman’s name has also not been released.
“The School Resource Officers and school officials headed to the cafeteria where they heard shots fired. The suspect fired shots in the school cafeteria, before he was subdued and disarmed,” the school district said in a statement. “Emergency procedures were activated and students and staff exited the high school. As a result of shots being fired, one student was injured. First-responders arrived, secured the facility, and transported the student to the hospital. The injured student’s parents were notified.”
Dallas Cunningham, a 14-year-old freshman, told the Decatur Herald & Review he was in the building when the shots were fired. “It was pretty scary,” he told the newspaper. “I was in class and they had us all move out fast.”
2. The Student Who Was Shot Is in Stable Condition at a Local Hospital
The victim was “smiling, in stable condition, in good spirits and joked about catching some slack on his grades,” Wednesday night, Larry Lilly, the superintendent of Mattoon schools said at a press conference. The victim’s father “also asked that I pass along his prayers for the shooter’s family,” Lilly said.
The victim’s mother posted on Facebook what he said happened. “My son … was shot today in a school shooting. He was the only one injured and we are very blessed it’s not worse. As the shooter was raising his gun a PE teacher lunged for his arm as he got the first round off, hitting (the victim). She held his arm straight up and he fired 5-6 more rounds into the ceiling as she took him down. (The victim) was not specifically targeted. The bullet apparently grazed his left index finger then entered his left chest and exited out his back missing all organs.”
The school district said in a statement on its website, “At this time we believe that there has been one injury.”
Officers who arrived at the scene found students running from the school and a chaotic scene, with at least one injured person in a parking lot area. Police were searching for other victims, but according to officials, no other victims were believed to be found. Police have not released other details about the victim, including his or her age.
“We believe this is the only suspect and he is in custody,” Mattoon Police Chief Jeff Branson told reporters, the Decatur Herald & Review reports. “I’m very confident about that.”
Prosecutors said the investigation is ongoing and the suspect remains in custody. His name cannot be released yet because of his age.
3. Officers Rushed to the Scene After 911 Callers Reported Hearing Shots Inside the School
According to police scanner transmissions, several officers rushed to the school to respond to a call reporting shots fired at 11:33 a.m. “I have a 911 call, shots fired at the high school,” the dispatcher told the Mattoon officers. You can listen to the scanner audio below, courtesy of Broadcastify.com. It has been edited by Heavy to remove identifying information about possible suspects and witnesses:
The dispatcher told responding officers that a caller in a woman’s bathroom at the school reported hearing what she believed to be “shots fired in the area.” The dispatcher said the caller said the shots seemed to be coming from the main hallway inside the school. At least one ambulance was also dispatched to the school for a “gunshot wound.”
Callers told the 911 dispatcher that at least four shots were fired in the area of the school’s cafeteria. One victim was taken from the scene by ambulance, and officers followed another blood trail to look for a second victim, but police do not believe any one else was injured. The suspect was reported to be in custody about 10 minutes after officers responded.
A police Crisis Response Team was at the scene, along with officers from multiple departments, including the Charleston Police Department, Eastern Illinois University Police and Illinois State Police. A medical helicopter was also called to the scene on standby, but it is not clear if any patients were transported in it. More than 100 police officers responded to the scene, WCIA-TV reports.
4. The Area Around the School Was Locked Down & Police Were Searching the Building
Police closed roads around the school as a precaution while the shooting is investigated. According to police scanner reports, officers were searching the building to determine if there were any other suspects or any victims. Students were being removed from the school by police and taken to another location.
Students were bused to another location, Riddle Elementary School, where they were later reunited with parents, according to the Mattoon Journal Gazette & Times-Courier.
“All students will be bussed to Riddle School. Parents may pick up their students there,” the school district says.
“Mattoon High School students will be able to pick up their cars at 5 p.m. today but they will NOT be allowed in the building,” the district said. “Due to the ongoing investigation, the public will not be allowed into the buildings. Students may pick up their belongings tomorrow. (Sept. 21).”
5. Mattoon Has About 15,000 Residents & All Schools in the Community Were Put on ‘Soft Lockdown’
Mattoon Township has a population of about 15,000 people. There are about 1,000 students at the high school. The town is located in east central Illinois, about three hours south of Chicago.
All other schools in the district were put on lockdown after the shooting. “As a precaution, all buildings are on soft lockdown. Release times are as normal schedule,” the district said in a Facebook post.
“We are saddened that this event has happened and we will provide counseling to students in need. We will continue to work with emergency personnel to determine what happened,” the school district said. “We appreciate the quick response of school staff and first-responders. Most importantly, we offer our thoughts and prayers to the injured student and all who are affected by this tragedy.”
The school district said the high school will be open on Thursday, September 21, but will have an early dismissal. Counselors and others will be at the school and parents will be allowed to keep their children home with an excused absence:
Mattoon High School will operate on an early dismissal schedule Sept. 21. The high school will be dismissed at 12:09 pm. Lunch will not be served at the high school. All other Mattoon school buildings will have regularly scheduled hours. Parents of any district student who wish to keep their children at home will be given excused absences. Counselors, clergy, and police officers will be available for students and staff to provide comfort and counseling. Updates will be available on the district website and Facebook page. Please keep everyone involved in your thoughts and prayers.
Mattoon Police Chief Jeff Branson told reporters, “This is a horrific incident for us today.”