Associated Press Published

Police: Suspect in Custody After Report of Gun at School


West Virginia State Police say a suspect has been arrested after a report of someone with a gun inside a high school.

State Police spokesman Lt. Michael Baylous says the suspect was taken into custody Tuesday afternoon at Philip Barbour High School.

Baylous says the incident began as a “hostage-type situation” at the school.

Baylous says the suspect was believed to have a gun and was isolated inside the school. After the incident was reported, the school was evacuated, and students were eventually removed from the school grounds by bus.

Baylous says he didn’t immediately have more details on the suspect or the incident.

No injuries were reported.

Philippi is a town of about 3,000 residents in north central West Virginia.

UPDATE 4:53 P.M.: 

Steve Saltis was among several parents outside an area cordoned off by police tape at West Virginia’s Philip Barbour High School waiting for students to be released.

Saltis told The Associated Press by telephone that his daughter attends the school. Passing minutes seemed like hours before authorities let the students head home. Saltis said “a lot” was going through his mind in the meantime.

Saltis said many students had been sitting in the school’s football stadium after the school was evacuated, and he was able to talk to his daughter. But Saltis says law enforcement officials told him nothing while the suspect was still in the school.

Asked why students weren’t immediately released to their parents, Saltis said he could only speculate: “She’s in their protection. That’s the way it works.”

UPDATE 5:20 p.m.:

West Virginia State Police say a 14-year-old boy held several students and a teacher hostage in a high school classroom before he let them go and eventually was taken into custody. No injuries were reported.

State Police Lt. Michael Baylous says in a news release that the boy had a pistol in a second-floor classroom Tuesday at Philip Barbour High School.

Baylous says after local authorities received a call about the matter at 1:30 p.m., the school was placed on lockdown, and students elsewhere in the school were moved to the school’s football field, accounted for and sent home by school bus.

Baylous says that after initial negotiations, the suspect agreed to release the students and teacher and then eventually put the gun down and surrendered without further incident.

Baylous says the suspect has been taken to a hospital for evaluation. 

UPDATE 6 p.m.:

A prosecutor says she plans to pursue charges against a 14-year-old boy taken into custody in what authorities say was a hostage-taking episode at a West Virginia high school.

West Virginia State Police say the teenager had a gun and held several students and a teacher in a high school classroom before he let them go and eventually was taken into custody. No injuries were reported and officials say the school was evacuated.

Barbour County Prosecutor Leckta Poling wouldn’t specify what charges would be brought against the male student. She said no charges had been filed as of Tuesday night. Poling said that because the case involves a juvenile, the court process would be closed. Police haven’t identified the student.

State Police Capt. Dave Reider says there will be an increased law enforcement presence at Philip Barbour High School on Wednesday. He said the school will be open but the start of classes will be delayed by two hours.

7:25 p.m.

An education official says a teacher did a “miraculous job” maintaining order in a West Virginia classroom where a 14-year-old male student is accused of holding students and the teacher at gunpoint before surrendering.

Barbour County Schools Superintendent Jeffrey Woofter says 29 students were in the second-floor classroom at Philip Barbour High School with the suspect when classes were about to change Tuesday.

Woofter says the teacher talked the boy into keeping the next group of students from entering the class. He didn’t name the teacher.

Other students who opened the door to enter the classroom were told to leave. Woofter says the students who were denied entry went across the hall to alert another teacher, who then alerted school officials before authorities were called.

Woofter says Philippi Police Chief Jeff Walters negotiated the students’ release and later got the suspect to surrender.

Authorities say the school was evacuated during the episode and that no injuries were reported.