Teacher hailed for helping avert tragedy in alleged hostage-taking incident

26 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Armed student, 14, holds 29 classmates, teacher, hostage at W.Va. high school.

When a “code red” alert first went up at her West Virginia high school, 17-year-old senior Kayla Smith said that no one in her classroom took the warning seriously.West Virginia Police and school officials help parents reunite with their children at Philip Barbour High School following a “hostage-type situation” Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015, in Philippi, W.Va. No one was hurt Tuesday in the hostage-taking drama that rocked a high school in the small Appalachian town of Philippi, home to about 3,000 people some 115 miles south of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

A report of someone with a gun inside the school led authorities to isolate and arrest a suspect in the building Tuesday, State Police said. (AP Photo/Ben Queen) (Ben Queen) PHILIPPI, W.Va. As the situation unfolded over the course of two to three hours, the teacher spoke to calm him, buying time for the police to arrive and negotiate the students’ release. Without naming the teacher, Barbour County Schools Superintendent Jeffrey Woofter credited her for maintaining control just when classes were about to change.

But as the remainder of the 724-student body was evacuated to the football stadium to be sent home, praise streamed in for the teacher and the police chief for helping get everyone out safely. Woofter said Philippi Police Chief Jeff Walters negotiated the release of the students from the classroom and eventually got the suspect to surrender a few hours after it began. Woofter, a former sheriff, said parents were right in following police warnings to stay away from the school. “In such a trying time, I was just amazed at our parents and how everybody responded to the situation,” he said. “I just thank God everybody is safe and hopefully we’ll never have a repeat of that again.” Steve Saltis was among several anxious parents who went to the school and waited outside an area cordoned off by police tape while waiting for students to be released.

Saltis said many students had been sitting in the school’s football stadium after the school was evacuated and that he was able to talk to his daughter.

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