Boy accused of pulling knife on student at WR basketball game

Sheriff "deeply concerned" about lack of timeliness in reporting incidents within Western Reserve Local Schools.
Cary Ashby
Dec 29, 2013

Huron County Sheriff Dane Howard said he's "deeply concerned" about the lack of timeliness in reporting incidents within Western Reserve Local Schools.

The sheriff's comments come in light of a Dec. 13 incident at Western Reserve High School basketball game in which a 17-year-old boy is accused of pulling a knife on another student. Assistant Principal Chris Sheldon reported the allegation to the sheriff's office Dec. 16 -- three days after the suspected incident.

"They sat on it until Monday," Chief Deputy Ted Patrick said, referring to Dec. 16. "It's clear they have an obligation to report it to law enforcement."

That makes two suspected incidents in five days with similar circumstances about school officials reporting crimes.

On Dec. 17, a 14-year-old Wakeman boy told his teacher and classmates he would retrieve an AK-47 assault rifle from his residence, return to the school and kill them, authorities said. That incident wasn't reported until two days later.

Deputies interviewed Sheldon and other school officials Friday. Howard said his officers explained to them "they had a responsibility to report the incidents immediately."

"There seems to be a pattern of activity on their reporting system and I am deeply concerned about it," the sheriff said.

The high school student, who received a 10-day school suspension, is charged with aggravated menacing. He remains at the Seneca County youth detention center pending the results of a court-ordered psychological evaluation.

Howard said he plans to address the situation about timely reporting with Western school officials in a private meeting.

"I called for school officials (Monday) morning," said the sheriff, who has been unable to reach everyone due to Christmas break.

"(Western's) reporting system is in question, to say the least," said Howard, who wants to see that "behavior" changed.

Superintendent Rodge Wilson said the district is "very concerned about the timeliness of reporting."

"We do not make a habit of calling the sheriff's office every time a student is threatened," he said, because school officials determine those threats some times aren't legitimate.

However, Wilson said he is planning on meeting with the sheriff's office to make each party aware of their responsibilities so "everybody is doing what they're supposed to be doing."

 

Pulled knife

The suspected knife incident happened during the Dec. 13 Western-Monroeville basketball game.

"It was reported to a deputy that a female student was threatened by a male student with a knife during a game. They were sitting together in the band," Patrick said.

First, there was an argument between the 17-year-old male suspect and a girl. A second girl came to the first girl's aid by grabbing the suspect's arm, the sheriff's spokesman said.

"That's when he pulled the knife on the second girl," said Patrick, who described the weapon as a Tac-Force knife with a black handle.

"There was a witness to this. The witness said the male suspect told the second girl if she touched him again, 'I'll kill you,'" he said. "After he threatened her, put it (the knife) back in his pocket.

"The person (who) was threatened said (the suspect) was very upset and angry towards her. She moved away and then he put the knife away. He later told her to keep her mouth shut and keep the incident between the two of them," Patrick said.

While the deputy's report indicates all three students "were all sitting together with the band," Patrick said there's no indication or mention of any adults.

"One of the female victims reported it to the assistant principal (Sheldon) at the game. But we don't receive the report the school until (Dec. 16)," Patrick said.

 

Reporting the incident

When asked what Sheldon told deputies about the knife incident, Patrick said the assistant principal gave "vague reasoning" about not reporting it earlier.

Wilson said Sheldon notified him "early in the week" and during the previous weekend, Sheldon had "gathered information on who was involved."

"He may have interviewed some kids," the superintendent added.

"We were made aware of that during the game. If we had known about it during the game, we would have done something," Wilson said.

Howard said his office has deputies doing "special details" at every Western game and they weren't notified of the Dec. 13 incident at the time.

As he stressed during a Reflector interview Friday about the suspected gun incident, Wilson said school officials often get information that is vague and is given to them "fourth- or fifth-hand," so they often have to question a lot of people before reporting suspected crimes to the sheriff's office.

However, the superintendent said Western officials need to report possible criminal activity to law enforcement.

Wilson was asked if Sheldon has overstepped his responsibilities by investigating allegations that should be handled by the sheriff's office.

"I don't think Mr. Sheldon is overstepping his bounds," Wilson said.

The superintendent said Sheldon, like all Western officials, are bound by board and state policies with what actions have to be taken.

"He does it very thoroughly," Wilson added.

He also said Sheldon has a duty to report suspected crimes and in this circumstance, the assistant principal handled the "No. 1 priority" and "called law enforcement when immediately available." The superintendent wasn't clear on what that priority was.

 

'Major crime'

The sheriff's office will be forwarding its findings about the knife allegation to Huron County Prosecutor Russell Leffler's office for review.

"It's a major crime with a weapon on school property. We're not talking about just arguing," Howard said.

"I have to take steps to ensure the safety of the children and all persons," he added.

"We live in a society in which school violence is a reality. Early reporting is paramount to keeping children from getting injured," Howard said.

Comments

believe it

Lots of angry people at WR it sounds like.

ladydye_5

Someone pulls a knife on my kid and I will call the cops. The school, the principal or assistant will not need to be bothered. I WILL DO IT. What the heck is wrong with these people???

John3065

AMEN!!

armbender

It sounds to me like there needs to be a few people on the unemployment line. What is it gonna take before theses idiots understand that these types of incidents need to be reported immediately! The parents need to pull together and make sure something is done about this! I bet if someone threatened Sheldon, he would report it! I don't know Sheldon, but it sounds to me like he needs to be fired! He is putting students lives at risk and that cannot be tolerated! I bet if an upset parent came in and threatened him, he would call the police right away!

wrparent

Reflector articles have this bad habit of leaving more questions than answers. Is this student currently in custody or at least under suspension or did he keep going to school that week and attending school events like the other games that have taken place since then? At a WR basketball game the last person I would think to talk to is Chris Sheldon because he really is not that accessible during a game. If you were in the band or student section, wouldn't you be walking past several other faculty and maybe even the deputy to get to Sheldon? How long did the Reflector sit on this information? Think about this, Cary Ashby interviewed the Sheriff's office about the gun incident on the 19th. Did the Reflector know about this incident then and not report it? I find it hard to believe if this incident is as serious as it is being reported that the Sheriff's office did not mention it back then. If the Reflector actually did find out about this on their own in the last day or so then maybe the Sheriff isn't as “deeply concerned” as he sounds in the paper. If the Reflector sat on this information the whole time just to release it now to keep trickling out bits of information to their subscribers, then I would say they are just as guilty of not making the safety of our children a top priority.

dswwtp

@wrparent - this was in the print edition over a week ago.

John3065

my children ALSO attend WR. To me it does NOT matter when who did what. Are our children safe?? Seriously. Time to give ANOTHER talk to my children......

Fibber Mcgee

I thought the HCSO were at local high school BB games paid by the school?

lifeisabitch

This person should be fired on the spot! He makes so many bad choices for a person in his position at WR, and it's not just recent. He has DUI's (public record) while holding this assistant principle's job and now putting lives in danger for not reporting dangerous issues. The WR school board seems to turn their heads every time he messes up because they don't want to lose him as the basketball coach! I guess sports are more important these days!

webflowerz1

well honestly I think schools need to take control of what goes on within in them.. and if its deemed police worthy then yes call.. but the police don't need to be called about everything.. some things need to be handled privately.. im glad my kids are not in school any longer but then of course we have to worry about grandkids.. im in my mid 40s, so my school years were safe.. you didn't have to worry about such..

Warped

Scouting reports people! Don't you people realize how important they are to a successful program?!? Sometimes there just isn't enough time to report EVERYTHING!

jack langhals

Who runs that school ?

Beccasun

Deleted

armbender

There should already be a strict policy put in place. With all of the crazy things going onin schools all over the country, there should be a zero tolerance policy on threats and weapons! I don't know Mr. Sheldon but my thoughts about him are very simple. He needs to be fired right away! He is not looking out for the safety of the students. I bet if I walked into his office and threatened to beat his a$$, he would call the police right away! I know his type and I am very disturbed that the parents and the school board is allowing his poor decisions to continue. So how long with this continue before something is done about it? The parents should all ban together and demand the school board to fire his dumb a$$!

wowman

Mr Sheldon was at Western when my kids went there and it sounds like nothing has changed. These days are much different than when we were in school and even my kids. With all the school shooting that have happened the mere talk of a gun (or any other weapon) being brought to school should be grounds for the police to be called.. Leave NOTHING TO CHANCE. Believe me if you would go in his office and even start to go at Mr. Sheldon 911 would be called so fast your head would spin. I know been there done that...

cam3x48

As a former student... EFFFF that CRAPHOLE. The school board is a joke! wilson not to bad as a sup. but Sheldon is the absolute worst part about all of it. man does nothing at all makes deplorable decisions,lets go get DUIs and drive to school with my party plates. They honestly HAD some good teachers people that care about your childs education but you know what lets just let them all go and hire the scum that fills the room now. When they do decide to change remember to start from the top none of those people have any business running a school.

welcomehome1

If you want to get in trouble at Western just put it on Twitter! As for Sheldon, all he cares about is BASKETBALL. Just ask other coaches at WR! Time for Sheldon to go!!!!!!

armbender

It sounds like Sheldon needs to go! He better make some changes and make them fast. One more crucial mistake and im gonna have a talk with him! The best interest of the students is the number one goal!