Less than a month into the new school year—and in the same week, no less—metro Atlanta residents saw in the news last week two high-profile incidents of weapons being brought onto school grounds.
The first happened Tuesday when a 20-year-old entered Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy in DeKalb County with an AK-47 in his hands. Authorities say Michael Brandon Hill exchanged gunfire with police but ultimately surrendered peacefully; no one was hurt at any point in the incident.
Less than a day later, Todd Kristopher Grigg of Woodstock was arrested after police said say he brought a BB gun that resembled a semi-automatic handgun and three knives to Cherokee Charter Academy.
No students, staff or community members were hurt in either event, but individuals involved in the incidents as well as the media have brought up the potential for tragedy to strike the schools in the same vein as the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in Newtown, Conn.
"Could we have done things differently? Can we make our buildings more secure? We have an obligation to every parent and student to make our schools as safe as possible. We will pore over every detail for clues as to how we can make our buildings even more secure. No parent should have to worry about their child’s safety while they are in school."
During the first two months of the year, Atlanta Public Schools experienced two on-campus shootings. In January, a 14-year-old student was shot by a fellow student at Price Middle School in southeast Atlanta. It appeared the victim and suspect knew each other and a subsequent investigation of the metal detectors at the school showed they weren't working.
The next month in
Midtown, a Grady High School student accidentally shot herself in the thigh on
school grounds after being let into the school through a school gymnasium door by another student.
In both cases, the guns managed to bypass security checkpoints, but this school year, APS
joined other metro area school districts in Gwinnett, Cobb, DeKalb, and
Cherokee counties in having their own security forces. But is it enough?
The question here is that after last week’s incidents in metro Atlanta, do you believe your children are safe at their schools? What can schools do more to keep children and staff safe? Tell us in the comments.