The Delaware State Police issued a press release today about the arrest of Tymere Moore, an 18 year old Middletown High School student in Appoquinimink School District. It gives much more information than the statement Appoquinimink Superintendent Matt Burrows sent to parents yesterday. Including the very disturbing fact that the student actually pulled out the handgun and pointed it at another student. The primary charge in the arrest was for brandishing a handgun. Which was not mentioned in Burrows’ parent letter at all.
From the Delaware State Police press release:
The altercation escalated when Moore threw a bottle at the female, which struck her in the head, causing a minor injury. An 18 year old male student who witnessed the incident intervened, and became engaged in a verbal altercation with Moore, at which time the two agreed to move to a nearby bathroom to continue the argument. Once in the bathroom Moore removed a 9mm handgun from his book bag and pointed it at the male student.
Burrows said in his statement to parents the student “was taken into custody without incident” which is a far cry from what really happened as shown in the State Police press release:
Soon after the incident school administrators received information that Moore was possibly in possession of a handgun. Moore was immediately located within the school and an attempt was made to escort him to a secure area. He refused to comply with the request and a physical altercation ensued, which resulted in Moore striking one of the administrators. Moore was eventually brought under control by assisting staff members and moved to a secure office. Once in the office an administrative search of Moore’s book bag produced a 9mm handgun.
His actual arrest, once state troopers arrived, may have gone down “without incident“, but getting him to the office sounded like a hell of a struggle. Why was the school not placed on immediate lockdown? The school was aware there was a gun in the school. Why would they even take a chance? In Burrow’s statement to parents, it begins with “shortly before noon today” but the Delaware State Police press release states “The incident began at approximately 10:50am.” How much time went by between 10:50am and the time the student was placed into police custody? How much time went by from the time the student threw a bottle at a female student and the discovery of the 9mm handgun?
Don’t get me wrong. Nothing happened in terms of shots being fired. The staff did stop the situation from escalating at certain points. But you have a situation where an argument occurs in a hallway, a students gets a bottle thrown at her head, two students go into a bathroom, almost fight, a gun is pulled, and they both come out of the bathroom. Where are the adults? Was there no one around when all of this first went down? How much time elapsed between them coming out of the bathroom and when the school found out he had a gun?
I believe Burrows should have included a lot of this information in his initial statement to parents. He, or the building Principal, should have made the call to place the school on lockdown. If the student had one weapon, what assurances were there he didn’t have more? At the time of the incident, news was filtering out about the horrible school shooting in Santa Fe, TX. Burrows did not release the parent letter until 4pm yesterday, over five hours after the incident began.
The State Police said the student stole the handgun from a car and brought it into the school. That was determined by the State Police investigation so there is no way the Middletown High School administrators could have known about that. There was no mention of a School Resource Officer in either Burrows’ parent letter or the State Police press release. I would think the SRO would have been involved in this at some point. None of the names Burrows singled out in his letter included an SRO.
While I am extremely relieved no shots were fired, there are some glaring holes in Burrows’ letter and the official State Police press release. These holes need to be filled by Burrows. I have no doubt it was a very troubling incident and it rattled a lot of folks at the school and the district office. But leaving out key information to parents is never a good idea. It will call them to immediately raise their eyebrows and wonder WHY certain things were not disclosed. When it comes to safety of students, NO information should ever be left out.
This incident also leads to an even bigger question: How many guns are coming into Delaware schools on a daily basis? Luckily, one was found yesterday. But that was because of circumstances that led to that. How many students are concealing weapons in book bags or lockers and no one is the wiser? Should there be metal detectors or body screens in all of our schools? If you walk into any police headquarters, Legislative Hall, or courtrooms in Delaware, there are metal detectors. You have to empty your pockets with anything metal and bags are placed in scanners. Why would we not do the same thing in our schools? It only takes one time for a Delaware school to become a statistic.