According to a recent press release from Mattoon Police Department and Mattoon Community Unit School District #2:
Mattoon Community Unit School District 2 administrators will meet with law enforcement and emergency responders in the coming days to review the response related to the Sept. 20 shooting incident at Mattoon High School.
A student shooter fired several rounds in the cafeteria on Sept. 20. One student was shot and injured but has since been released from the hospital and is recovering. A Mattoon High School teacher safely subdued the shooter. The school resource officer disarmed and arrested the shooter. Students and staff safely exited the building.
Mattoon Police Chief Jeff Branson and Mattoon School Superintendent Larry Lilly confirmed there was only a single shooter during the Sept. 20 incident and there is no continued threat connected with that incident. They also want to caution the public about the media’s or community’s assumptions or rumors, including bullying, that led to the shooting. No one in official capacity who is involved in the investigation has confirmed any motives or specific situations that led to the shooting. Branson said that more than 250 student and staff interviews have been completed.
The case is being handled by the Coles County State’s Attorney. Because the suspect is a juvenile, specific facts and opinions about the case cannot be shared publicly.
For the past 12 years at the beginning of each school year, Mattoon school officials have met with first responders to review the emergency plans for each building. First responders also schedule an annual practice drill with staff from each school building. On August 31, 2017, weeks before the shooting incident, the annual emergency planning meeting occurred. Police Chief Jeff Branson said these annual reviews of the emergency plans are extremely helpful especially during implementation of the plan during the Sept. 20 incident and aftermath. Although each emergency is unique, having a plan, annual review, knowledge of that plan and knowing the building administrators eases the challenges of coordination and response, said Branson.
The specifics of the district’s emergency plans are not made public so as to prevent providing information to those with intent to do harm to students and staff. First responders and building administrators invited to the meeting are provided with updates to the plans through printed copies and updates to electronic files. Principals from each building present their plans which include escape routes, lockdowns, building floorplans, emergency contacts and reunification sites.
“Without the help, input and support of first responders, we would not have been able to develop and implement these emergency plans and procedures during the Sept. 20 incident,” said Lilly. “On behalf of our district, I want to thank each and every one of the first responders for taking time to attend these annual meetings for the past 12 years.” Lilly always hoped the district wouldn’t have to implement the plans and they would remain an annual discussion item.
“The events of Sept. 20 put that plan into action. We appreciate the coordinated response that was driven by these safety plans and procedures,” said Lilly. “We watched our dedicated staff and responders follow the plan which we discussed and tweaked for so many years.”
The upcoming discussion regarding the Sept. 20 incident will include an evaluation of the response to the emergency by both first responders and district staff. Some of the many topics to be analyzed will include coordination of staff and first responders, traffic and transportation and communication.