Nearby schools examine safety plans after West Liberty-Salem school shooting

SIDNEY, Ohio (WKEF/WRGT) - If you ask Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart how long he's been the top officer in the county, he will tell you forever.

Lenhart was in a meeting last Friday morning when he got a call from a restricted number in Champaign County.

"(The caller) said 'This is Sheriff (Matt) Melvin.' He said "Send some deputies, I've got an active shooter.' I said 'No problem,'" said Sheriff Lenhart.

Sheriff Lenhart immediately sent five deputies to a school shooting at West Liberty-Salem.

Logan Cole, 16, was shot twice by a shotgun that investigators say had been snuck into the building by Ely Serna, 17.

"Your heart just sinks. You're not sure how many people are hurt and my mind goes back to (the) Sandy Hook (Elementary massacre)," said Sheriff Lenhart.

Cole is slowly recovering but has a long road ahead of him.

Adam Lanza killed 20 children and six staff members in the Sandy Hook massacre just over four years ago.

“I gave up a long time ago trying to think of why somebody wants to hurt somebody. You just have to take it at face value that somebody is hurting somebody, let somebody else figure out why, and react and try and get it under control,” said Sheriff Lenhart.

Sandy Hook changed everything in Shelby County.

We went through A.L.I.C.E. training with all the teachers, all the students. We have, I think all but one school, we have deputy sheriffs in, including the cities,” said Sheriff Lenhart.

Sidney high school is one of the many schools in Shelby county that has an armed response team in the building.

Sidney City Schools Superintendent John Scheu says no matter how much money the district spends on trying to keep a dangerous person out they will find a way in.

Scheu has been in education for more than 40 years.

"I've been at this a long time and never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that it would come to this," said Scheu.

A majority of schools in the district have some form of armed response. There is at least one firearm in almost every building that at least one staff member has secure access to in case of an emergency.

Scheu knows seconds matter in an active shooter situation.

Statistically, a person dies on average every 17 seconds during these types of situations.

“We feel, quite frankly that we have done everything humanly possible to put things in place that would minimize an active shooter situation in Sidney. We can’t prevent it from happening but we can certainly minimize the carnage,” said Scheu.

Unlike a lot of Ohio schools, nearly every Sidney school and a majority of the other districts in the county have a sheriff's deputy in the building. The sheriff says those deputies and the volunteer armed response staff need to be ready for anything.

"They need to be able to wipe a tear out of a kid's eye that scraped his knee but when they stand up they have to be capable of great violence in today's society," said Sheriff Lenhart.

Scheu says anytime there is a school shooting it forces the district to reevaluate security.

“It causes us to review and reflect in terms of what our security measures are. How effective are they? The training procedures,” said Scheu.

"We think it's successful in terms of it's a deterrent we believe. It's certainly no secret we have an armed response team. We have an armed, uniformed school security officers in every one of our seven buildings. We have (warning) signs posted on the doors," said Scheu.

Those armed response teachers train to be prepared in case something like Sandy Hook should ever happen on their watch.

"They train on a monthly basis with our deputies. If you're an active shooter and you come up here, you're probably going to need a will because you're going to be in trouble," said Sheriff Lenhart.

Sheriff Lenhart thinks he's got one of the safest counties not only in Ohio but in the entire country. He says it’s because of the people he has working for him.

“If I have to depend on the state of Ohio or the Federal government to protect us, we’re in deep trouble. I’m a sheriff and I know that the best response is the most local response and we have to be able to protect ourselves,” said Sheriff Lenhart.Superintendent Scheu wants parents and everyone else to know his district they're doing everything they can to protect the children.

"When parents send their kids to school they need to know they're going to come home safe at the end of the day and I feel quite confident in saying that we have done everything possible that is going to occur," said Scheu.

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