Students and staff across Ohio, including some at Tolles in Madison County, are wearing orange and black supporting West Liberty-Salem Local Schools following a school shooting Friday, Jan. 20.
The shooting critically injured 16-year-old Logan Cole at the Champaign County high school. Cole was moved from the intensive care unit at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus Saturday, though he is still recovering from injuries. Another student was injured less severely and is only identified as A.S. by officials.
The alleged shooter is a classmate, 17-year-old Ely Ray Serna. He is incarcerated in a nearby juvenile facility while the Champaign County Prosecutor’s Office seeks a ruling in juvenile court that would allow him to be tried as an adult.
Students and staff at Tolles Career & Technical Center in Plain City wore orange and black on Monday. The effort, spearheaded on social media by school districts throughout the state under the #SupportWLS hashtag, is a sign of solidarity amongst schools to show support.
“We received a message on Sunday about the effort, and we passed it on through our social media channels,” said district spokesman Shane Haggerty.” We had more than 40-50 staff members and students wearing orange and black as a show of our school’s support to the community of West Liberty-Salem.”
As community churches continued days of praying for the shooting victims and the alleged perpetrator, details emerged about how the events unfolded on Friday morning as classes were set to begin at WL-S.
Instead of a day of schooling, students and teachers went into a trained response action known as ALICE (alert, lockdown, inform, counter, evacuate) before Serna was contained by staff and held for law enforcement — which arrived within five minutes of the 911 call, according to a social media report from the sheriff’s office. Students were then removed from the school campus to safer local venues before being released to their parents.
According to a statement released Saturday afternoon from Champaign County prosecutor, the sheriff’s office seized a Mossberg Model 500 12-gauge shotgun at the school.
“This is the weapon that is alleged to have been used by Mr. Serna,” the statement read.
Serna faces two counts of attempted murder, three counts of felonious assault, six counts of improperly discharging a firearm at or into a habitation or a school safety zone, one count of inducing panic and one count of illegal conveyance of possession of a deadly weapon or dangerous ordnance in a school safety zone.
Urbana High School students expressed surprise and shock Monday. Several knew both Serna and Cole, whether through friends or as past classmates.
“It’s been very intense here,” said Urbana senior Dakota Bloemhard. “It’s shocking; it’s just heartbreaking.”
Urbana freshman Bryce Hatzer said he thought security should be increased at schools to prevent shootings in the future.
“This touches close to home,” said Urbana freshman Tessa Armstrong. “You never thought it could happen to you.”
Urbana junior Jessica Beverly said she thought Logan Cole was a hero. Ryan Cole, Logan’s father, posted on Facebook that Logan, after being shot, asked the shooter not to injure others.
“He’s a role model to the public,” she said.
Support throughout the region dovetailed The Great Kindness Challenge, an event presented by the nonprofit Kids for Peace, whose goal is to create a more positive, unified and respectful school environment. The challenge lasts all week.
WL-S remained closed Monday and was expected to reopen Tuesday an hour later than usual.