Friday, January 25, 2013

Security remains high at high school

Police still concerned about shotgun blast

Express Staff Writer

Hailey police continue to keep a close watch on Wood River High School two weeks after someone blasted their way into the building at night with a shotgun.

“There’s still a person out there that committed a violent act and it still has us concerned,” Police Chief Jeff Gunter said Wednesday. “We’ve got two operations going on—we’ve got a security operation going on and an investigation going on.”

For the past several years, the high school has had a Hailey policeman assigned as a fulltime resource officer, but following the shotgun incident early in the morning of Friday, Jan. 11, the agency has been keeping extra officers in and around the high school.

A $2,000 reward has been offered for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of the shooter, but so far no one has come forward with information to claim it. Images of the person who broke into the building were captured on the school video surveillance system, but the quality of the images was such that the person could not be identified.

Entry into the high school was made after someone used a shotgun to shoot out a glass door on the northwest portion of the building. Police conducted a thorough search of the building before school was allowed to start the following day.

Gunter said police still consider the person who broke into the building to be a threat because of the “means of how the person entered.”

“I’ve never seen it before,” the police chief said. “It was a violent act. We are going to follow up every lead until there are no leads. That’s pretty much Lt. Steve England’s only job right now, and that’s an indicator of the importance we’re putting to it.”


Security task force

In the aftermath of the shotgun incident, the Blaine County School District is forming a security task force to study and determine what might be done to improve security at district schools and facilities.

Announcement of the task force came from district Security Director Scott Manning at a Jan. 15 school board meeting. Manning said he began discussing the idea with district Superintendent Lonnie Barber even sooner, following the mass school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14.

Manning discussed recent security improvements in the district, including installation of new electronic locks systems and new security cameras at district facilities and reconstruction of front door access at the high school and Wood River Middle School. However, he said additional security upgrades may be needed.

He said the new security task force would include himself, police agencies, district administrators, school representatives, parents and the Blaine County Community Drug Coalition.

Manning said the task force will meet regularly to discuss “what can be done to improve the safety of our schools.”

Regarding the shotgun incident, Manning praised the police response.

“They were very quick in getting there, they were very thorough and they did a great job,” he said.

Barber also noted that he was impressed with the police response, and thanked Gunter, who attended the board meeting.

“When I got to the high school at four o’clock and you were all there, it blew me out as to how efficient they were,” Barber said. “These things are terrible things. The way they breached the building shocked me, but we need to take advantage of those sorts of things to build something better.”

Gunter noted that cooperation between the district and police went well.

“I’m very happy with the way the School District responded,” Gunter said. “It was a great team, but we’re not done.

“We’re not resting until we catch this guy.”

Terry Smith:


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