Teacher’s quick response saves lives during Mattoon High School shooting – Chicago Tribune
Mattoon Police Chief Jeff Branson cited the female teacher’s intervention as being pivotal in the quick response.
“She’s been trained obviously, but in these scenarios, you just don’t know what’s going to happen until it happens,” Branson said during a press conference Wednesday night. “Had the teacher not responded as quickly as she had I think the situation would have been a lot different.”
Branson said two students were injured during the shooting in the cafeteria. Officials immediately attended to one of them.
“Officers located another student in the parking lot of the school and attention was given to him by the school nurse and later transported to Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center by medical personnel,” said Branson. “I was advised on scene by the nurse that he was in stable condition, and had received what appeared to be, for sure, one gunshot, potentially two gunshot wounds.”
Mattoon Schools Superintendent Larry Lilly said that just before the press conference he had visited the other student at the hospital.
“With permission from his father, I can share his son is smiling, in stable condition, in good spirits and joked about catching some slack on his grades,” said Lilly.
According to the superintendent, the shooting occurred around 11:30 a.m. Wednesday. Branson added that Mattoon police were notified at 11:32 a.m. and upon arrival found the suspected shooter in the school resource officer’s custody.
“We feel like we’ve got the only shooter and participant in custody,” said Branson. “We’re pretty confident it was one individual.”
Coles County State’s Attorney Brian Bower declined to disclose the name of the teacher who subdued the shooter, as well as the alleged shooter and victims, citing confidentiality requirements.
But according to Skye Arthur, of Mattoon, one injured student was her son, Braeton Davis, a 16-year-old junior. He was grazed by a bullet across the knuckles and treated by a medic at Riddle Elementary School, where the high school students were taken after the shooting.
“He saw the gunman and the gun but I think it happened so fast, he didn’t know who it was,” Arthur said in a phone interview. “He said he first heard the initial pop and thought it was a balloon and then he heard it another 3-5 times and that’s when everyone started running.”
Scott Bitting said he received an email Wednesday morning from the district explaining there had been an apparent shooting just after getting off work at a local factory. Bitting texted his daughter, a junior at MHS, and rushed to the school.
“I blew every stoplight there was,” said Bitting, who works third shift at LSC Communications, formerly R.R. Donnelley. “I just flew.”
Bitting hadn’t reunited with his daughter, Madison, who was last year crowned Miss Teen Bagelfest, as of Wednesday afternoon. Instead, as he approached the school, he saw a need to help and direct the otherwise chaotic scene.
Joining him were Shon and Kendra Allsop, who own Shon’s Tear and Repair, a small engine service shop at the corner of 26th and Marshall Avenue. The Allsops also helped direct traffic after a sheriff deputy’s vehicle was involved in a wreck one block west, the cause of which was not immediately clear Wednesday afternoon.
“At first, we were just sitting here watching the chaos but then this being the only through street (to the school), we saw that wreck so my brother and I ran down there,” said Allsop. “There was another guy and he said, ‘You need a vest?’ So he gave me that orange vest and I hopped out there.”
In between directing vehicles, the Allsops decided to turn their business sign into a marker guiding parents to Riddle.
“It was weird,” said Allsop, who has three children who attend Riddle Elementary. “As a human, you’re just kind of scared for everybody else. As a business, you have to do what you have to do.
“That’s what you’re supposed to do as a community,” added Allsop, who was joined by the owners of Crossfit Mattoon gym, just across Marshall Avenue to the south, Mike and Mindy Houser, who saw the scene unfold earlier.
“About 11:30 a.m., we saw five police cars go flying by and within a minute we heard kids screaming and running past this way and past that way,” said Mike Houser, who moved to Mattoon a year ago from Sullivan. “Then we walked out and started trying to calm the kids and kind of find out what happened. They said they were told to go to Riddle, so we started telling all the kids we saw go to Riddle.”
Like the Allsops, the Housers also helped direct traffic and posted signs directing parents to the pickup point.