NOBLESVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — Two people were taken to hospitals in critical condition and a suspected shooter was in custody after a shooting Friday morning in Noblesville West Middle School.
Noblesville Police Department said the first call came in at 9:06 a.m. Two people were shot, a 13-year-old girl and a teacher. The girl, identified by her family as Ella Whistler, remained in critical condition on Friday night. The seventh-grade teacher, identified by police as Jason Seaman, 29, was in good condition.
The girl’s family issued a statement by email Friday night:
“Our daughter, Ella Whistler, was involved in a horrific shooting today at her school. We will spend the next days and weeks processing what happened and why. But first, we wanted to say she is doing well at Riley Hospital for Children. Her status is critical, yet we are pleased to report she is stable. We’d like to thank everyone across the country who prayed for our family today. We’ve felt those prayers and appreciate each of them. We’d also like to thank the first responders, Noblesville police, Indiana State Police and the medical staff and surgeons at Riley. Please do not contact our family for further comment at this time. We appreciate you respecting our privacy as we support Ella in her recovery.”
Another student was being treated at Riverview Health in Noblesville with a fractured ankle.
“There is a male student at Noblesville West Middle School who has been detained,” said Kevin Jowitt, Noblesville police chief. “We believe he is the involved suspect. We have no reason to believe that there is any kind of a threat connected to this anywhere else.”
While authorities have not confirmed the name of the suspect, they provided details on what led up to the shooting.
Jowitt said that a male student asked to be excused from a classroom, left and returned with two handguns. Jowitt said that classroom is where the shooting occurred and that the incident was resolved quickly.
“We don’t know what happened in the classroom, so I can’t make any comments, but we do know what happened in that classroom resolved very quickly,” Jowitt said.
“You never think they’re going to happen in your hometown,” is how Lt. Bruce Barnes, a public information officer with Noblesville Police Department, began his comments at an afternoon news conference.
He a school resource officer assigned to the campus was inside the building and responded.
Barnes said the shooter “was apprehended in the classroom or thereabouts” and that authorities are still working to learn what that process looked like. He also said that officials would be reviewing video from the school.
The teacher was shot while taking down the shooter, according to students, and was taken to IU Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. The girl was taken to Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health in Indianapolis.
Police said Friday night that the suspect did not appear to be injured.
Barnes also confirmed the school does not have metal detectors “as a regular basis of walking into the school.”
Barnes said a number of search warrants had been issued, while another official said the investigation would have to be completed before they could determine if and what charges would be filed.
“We all train for this. When it comes down to it, we come to the realization of ‘What do we do?'” Barnes said, speaking of the ongoing investigation.
Noblesville Schools Superintendent Beth Niedermeyer said she had just visited with the families of the victims and asked that, while cards and kind wishes were welcome, people stay away from the hospital to allow the family to have some peace.
Niedermeyer called the efforts of the school staff heroic and said, “They did exactly what they were trained to do. Please keep the thoughts and prayers coming. We’re so grateful for the support we’ve had.”
Arrangements for students returning to school in the coming days were still in process, Barnes and Niedermeyer said.
Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter said he had briefed Gov. Eric Holcomb as Holcomb returned from Europe. When asked about more details into what authorities called the staff’s heroism, Carter said, “When we can tell that story, you’ll be proud, too.”
Barnes said investigators would remain inside the school for several hours and that because of the quick response, “We think lives were saved today.”
“Staff were prepared; they knew what they were doing, and I couldn’t be more proud. It’s very sad that we have to go through this in our beautiful city,” Noblesville Mayor John Ditslear said.
News 8’s Eric Feldman was in a Noblesville neighborhood where he saw police blocking off the intersection of Roxbury Lane and York Circle, an area that backs up onto Morse Reservoir. Neighbors told him they had seen FBI and ATF teams arrive in unmarked cars around 11:30 a.m. and described the home that appeared to be the focus of the investigation as “newer homeowners and a nice family.”
News 8 spoke with one parent who said he had just learned that his daughter was safe.
“Well, my ex-wife called me and she was hysterical and couldn’t even talk,” he said. “And I had to calm her down and what’s going on. All she said there was shooting at my kid’s school. My daughter called her while it was happening from underneath the desk and it sounded like it was coming from another hallway.”
News 8’s Brenna Donnelly also spoke with another parent, Somorah Landis.
“I got a message and a call from my daughter that’s in eighth grade at West Middle School saying that there was an active shooter and that they were to evacuate the building,” Landis said. “She was crying and so frantic.”
Landis said she works for the high school.
“I’m always telling my kids that I believe that they need to have daily school searches and not let them carry backpacks,” she said.
One student told News 8 that he heard several shots fired but did not know if they were fired inside or outside of the building.
One student said she saw police arrest two students in a class at Noblesville High School. Noblesville High School was on lockdown temporarily after a threat was received via text message.
If you’d like to donate to the recovery efforts of the victims, click here.