OLATHE, KS – A school resource officer is being applauded for his efforts at stopping what was seemingly an active shooter at a school the last week of February.
Although the officer himself was injured, he was able to stop the shooter before he could continue his rampage.
"Our SRO did his job": The school resource officer credited with saving lives at Olathe East High School has been identified as Officer Erik Clark.
— KCTV5 News (@KCTV5) March 5, 2022
Every parents’ fear is hearing that there is a school shooting at their child’s school.
There is really no way to mentally prepare for such a thing, but it has to be a relief when you find out the school’s resource officer was able to stop it before more people were injured.
That is exactly what happened at Olathe East High School when the school resource officer, Erik Clark, was asked to stay in an area of the school while the principal had a discussion with a student, identified as 18-year-old Jaylon Desean Elmore.
At some point during the discussion, Elmore allegedly produced a firearm and shot the principal.
Jaylon Desean Elmore, 18, was charged with the attempted killing of Erik Clark, a police and school resource officer injured in Friday’s Olathe East High School shooting. https://t.co/L84exW1XuU
— The Kansas City Star (@KCStar) March 5, 2022
Officer Clark, who heard the shooting, entered the room and was also allegedly shot by Elmore. The officer was able to return fire and take the man into custody.
Thankfully, everyone who was injured in the traumatic event are expected to survive from their injuries.
Elmore was last listed in critical condition but is expected to survive. When he is released from the hospital, he will be transferred to the county jail since he has been formally charged with attempted capital murder according to Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe. Elmore will face a $1 million bond in the case.
Olathe Police Sergeant Joel Yeldell was short and to the point when he spoke to the media regarding the active shooter. He said:
“We had an SRO, it sounds like, that he did his job, so that’s great news, and the injuries are expected to be survivable.”
Officer Clark’s selfless acts of entering into a room where shots were fired, getting shot, and being able to stop the lethal threat are not going unnoticed.
Several other law enforcement agencies are taking to social media to praise his efforts and wish him a speedy recovery.
The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office released a tweet that read:
“The entire Sheriff’s Office is keeping SRO Clark, his family, and his @OlathePolice family in our prayers tonight.”
The Kansas State Troopers Association also recognized Officer Clark’s heroism on Facebook:
“A tragedy was avoided today thanks to [Officer Clark]. A big hat tip to this badass!”
Officer Clark’s heroism was noted by several others, including Steve Bundy who tweeted:
“This man is a hero. We hear so much negative about police officers why don’t we talk the good ones? My son and 2,000 other high school students returned safely to their homes tonight because of officer Erik Clark. Extremely thankful for this brave man.”
This man is a hero. We hear so much negative about police officers why don’t we talk the good ones? My son and 2,000 other high school students returned safely to their homes tonight because of officer Erik Clark. Extremely thankful for this brave man. #OlatheEast @ZeekArkham pic.twitter.com/CHpIxckt8O
— Steve Bundy (@just_Bundy) March 4, 2022
Another Twitter user, John Jay Wiley, posted:
“His name is Erik Clark, a police officer and school resource officer in Olathe Kansas. He is recovering from gunshot injuries he received during a shooting at school. His actions save many lives. We wish him a full and speedy recovery.”
Elmore, who is a football player for the Olathe East High School, has been in trouble in the past.
In 2020, he was arrested for aggravated robbery in Wyandotte County.
According to The Star, he was convicted of stealing a wallet from someone through force or threats of force. Elmore was sentenced as a juvenile in the case to six months of probation which concluded in July of 2021.
The shooting incident occurred on January 21st after a school security guard for the Magruder High School found the 15-year-old victim in critical condition and bleeding from his wounds.
The security guard then called for additional assistance and a nurse to respond. The school has no school resource officer as they eliminated the position last fall.
When police arrived on scene, the school was placed in lockdown while they worked to determine exactly how the victim was shot.
During their investigation, they learned that there were several students who were present when the shooting occurred, but never called authorities.
Montgomery County Police Chief Marcus Jones spoke about the incident during a news conference:
“We later discovered that there were some students who we believe who were possibly present in the bathroom who began to tweet out that a shooting had occurred and in fact gave the subject and the victim’s information over Twitter.
“Those very same students did not notify any MCPS [Montgomery County Public Schools] staff, nor did they notify 911 that one of their classmates had been shot and was suffering from his wounds in the bathroom.
This student, the victim, was actually located during a hall sweep by MCPS school security during a change of classes at that particular time.”
Detectives were able to identify the suspect in the case, 17-year-old Steven Alston, Jr, who was not in his assigned classroom as police began searching for him. Chief Jones reported that detectives were able to determine Alston’s location in a different classroom and developed a tactical plan to remove him without causing panic or additional injuries.
The Chief did not elaborate on how they contacted Alston, but they were able to safely take him into custody without incident. Alston appeared before a judge and was ordered to be held without bond pending any further court dates.
Chief Jones alleged that officers located a gun which was in Alston’s possession when they arrested him. The gun was reportedly no longer able to function as it had been disassembled into three different parts.
Chief said that the frame of the gun was on the floor while the slide of the gun was in Alston’s backpack. The magazine was reportedly recovered from one of Alston’s socks. Alston was charged as an adult with attempted second-degree murder, felony assault along with other weapons violations.
During the hearing, prosecutors in the Maryland District where Alston appeared alleged that Alston had purchased a ghost gun online so that he could shoot the victim.
The alleged shooting was over some type of feud between the two of them.
Whether the children who went to Twitter instead of notifying authorities of the shooting face criminal charges or not remains to be seen. Chief Jones has decided to leave it up to the school to make the decision, at least for now.
Chief Jones said:
“It is wiser to get people the help started that they need rather than being the superstar on Twitter that day. That’s a reality we need to have a real conversation with our young people about. There is a place for social media. But then there’s a time and a place when we need to help our fellow man.”
Following the Chief’s comments, the Interim Superintendent Monifa McKnight stepped up to the microphone to announce that there would be police presence at the school for the week following the shooting. Mental health counselors would also be in attendance to help anyone process the shooting event.
Despite the apparent need for law enforcement to be present an available at any school, McKnight believes that it is unnecessary at this point without more evaluation. In speaking directly about the school resource officer program, she said:
“I don’t want to see any particular program come back that we have learned there are dynamics of the program that doesn’t work. And that’s what we learned from the SRO program.
“Yes, there were positives to that program, but there were also negatives. It’s more about looking at what type of environment do we want to create in our schools that’s a safe one and built on the premise of relationship building. And it is incumbent on us to build the right program.”
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