Police: La Salle student used gun taken from safe at home

GREEN TOWNSHIP, OH (FOX19) - The Green Township Police Department says a gun that a La Salle High School student used to attempt suicide in a classroom on Monday was taken from a gun safe at his home.

Chief Bart West says the gun was a .45 caliber pistol.

The incident happened just after 9 a.m. Monday during a first period class at the school on Cincinnati's west side.

According to a police report released Tuesday by Green Township Police, a teacher reported the 17-year-old student was seated at the front of the classroom in a chair when students began yelling at him. The student briefly struggled to chamber a handgun, then placed it to his head and fired one round.

The student's name is not being reported due to a request by his parents.

School began with a prayer service on Tuesday morning. A second service open to the public was held Tuesday evening in the La Salle gym.

Officials stressed that the boy fired one shot and didn't threaten any of the 22 other students who were in the classroom at the time. The student was taken to UC Medical Center and is in critical condition.

The student's parents released a statement on Tuesday through University of Cincinnati Medical Center: "We ask that everyone please respect our privacy during this difficult time and refrain from twitter and Facebook posts. We love our son very much and have always been proud of him. We are grateful for all who continue to keep our son and our family in your prayers."

Greg Tankersley, Director of Community Development at La Salle, says the honors student is "fighting for his life" and urged the community to pray for him and his family. The student has been working on his Eagle Scout designation and volunteered for several church and community organizations.

Archbishop Dennis Schnurr of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati also released the following statement on Tuesday:

"We are all greatly saddened by the shooting at La Salle High School. We pray for the young man's recovery, not only from the self-inflicted wound but also from the personal challenges that led him to take this action. We also pray for his family and friends, for the other students and the teacher in the classroom at the time, and for the entire La Salle school community. Through the grace of God, may they all find healing, strength, and courage." 

The students were put into the cafeteria to shelter in place until officers could make sure there weren't any other threats. Authorities from Green Township and Hamilton County arrived within a few minutes.

Authorities say it was an isolated incident. They did not have an answer as to how the student got the gun into the building.

School officials notified parents via an e-mail from principal Thomas Luebbe.

The e-mail reads: 

"We had a tragedy today at La Salle High School! 
One of our students shot himself and has been transported to the hospital.  All other students at OK and presently assembled in our gymnasium.
Plans are being mad (sic) for dismissal of students.
More to follow."

The school was placed on lockdown for an hour after the shooting. Shortly thereafter, students were released to the dozens of parents who flooded the school. Students who drove themselves were released after that.

Tankersley says counselors are available through the school and the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

"There will be no resource that we don't pull out to answer a question to make sure that the young men are taken care of and their families," he said.

"We are saddened to learn about the suicide attempt of a student at La Salle High School. We are hopeful that he survives his injuries and recovers quickly.  Our thoughts are with him and his family, friends and peers," said Deb Clancy, chair of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) – Cincinnati Chapter.

AFSP officials say early recognition, evaluation and treatment is one of the best ways to prevent suicide. Several resources are available to help students and school personnel at www.afsp.org.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, help is available by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255).

La Salle is a private all-boys school associated with the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. It has an enrollment of about 800 students.

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