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Teacher talks down 14-year-old who held classmates at gunpoint

“We all held hands and said a prayer.”

Parents and students leave after reuniting with their children following a
Parents and students leave after reuniting with their children following a "hostage-type situation" at Philip Barbour High School.
Image: Apexchange

WITH 29 TERRIFIED students looking on, a West Virginia high school teacher managed to calm a 14-year-old student who pointed a gun at her in her classroom, giving a police chief time to arrive and convince the boy to free his peers and surrender, authorities said.

No one was hurt yesterday 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.

It was the ninth day of the new school year, and some students said they didn’t believe it at first when a so-called “code red” alert was raised.

State Police Lieutenant Michael Baylous said it began after 1 pm yesterday with the student taking a pistol into a second-floor classroom at Philip Barbour High School, a drab brown campus in a rural area of tree-peppered rolling hills. He wouldn’t say what spurred the hostage-taking, citing an ongoing investigation.

But praise followed quickly for the teacher and police chief who helped bring the ordeal to a safe conclusion.

Without naming the teacher, Barbour County Schools Superintendent Jeffrey Woofter credited her for maintaining control just when classes were about to change. Woofter also praised the local police chief for getting quickly to the scene and talking the suspect into giving up.

High School Gun Evacuation Parents of children from Philip Barbour High School in Philippi, W.v.,walk to the school to meet up with their children that were evacuated. Source: Apexchange

The teacher talked the boy into not allowing the next group of students to enter the classroom. Alerted by those students, another teacher told school administrators, who then called 911.

“The teacher did a miraculous job, calming the student, maintaining order in the class,” Woofter said.

The entire situation was contained in about two or three hours, police said. Meanwhile, the rest of the 724-student body was safely evacuated to the bleachers of the football stadium, where they awaited rides home.

High School Gun Evacuation Students wait on the football field bleachers at Philip Barbour High School. Source: Apexchange

Kayla Smith, a 17-year-old senior, said initially no one in her classroom in the same building took the “code red” warning seriously.

“Then we all held hands and said a prayer,” she said.

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