Editorials

Safe end to North Thurston shooting

A brave act work by a North Thurston High School teacher averted what might have been a tragic school shooting in Lacey this week. Social studies teacher Brady Olson tackled the 16-year-old student after the youth fired two shots from a pistol, one into the floor and a second into the ceiling.

One shot was fired in the school gym and another as the youth moved into a commons area, where he was taken down by Olson just before classes began Monday morning. The boy was ordered held on $500,000 bail awaiting formal charges on several firearm offenses.

North Thurston’s school community was lucky that no one was injured. Its staff kept cool in what had to be a terrifying moment in any educator’s — or student’s — life.

Olson, aided by other staff, acted quickly and adeptly to subdue the teen. As school officials noted, the incident showed the value of their safety drills and practice lock-downs.

As details emerge, the motive behind the aborted gun play may become clearer. It’s important to learn the teen’s motives and, equally important, how a firearm ever got into his hands.

Police say the youth appeared suicidal and meant no harm to others. Such a belief is in line with early reports that the youth apparently fired a warning shot into the ceiling — rather than at other students or school staffers.

Lacey Police Cmdr. Jim Mack said the handgun, which belonged to the boy’s father, was taken illegally.

But was the gun ever properly secured? Police need to divulge more as they learn it.

There are disturbing reports that others knew of the boy’s emotional distress and didn’t go for help. We do not fault the students or fault North Thurston’s adults, but we all can use a reminder that we must pay attention when a friend or acquaintance shows signs of despair and is becoming suicidal.

Gun responsibility law

is step in right direction

Gov. Jay Inslee signed the Sheena Henderson Act into law Tuesday. It is the first — and potentially only — firearms-related legislation that will be passed this year in the wake of voter passage of a gun-background check initiative last November.

Substitute Senate Bill 5381, which passed unanimously in the House and Senate, gives 72-hour notice to family members whenever law enforcement is returning firearms that had been seized. Police would need to set up protocols to allow that under the legislation.

In the case of Sheena Henderson, police had taken her husband Chris’ gun because of threats to do violence, but a day after he got it back he went to Deaconess Hospital in Spokane and murdered Sheena in her workplace and then took his own life.

Unfortunately, a second bill inspired by the Henderson deaths stalled in the Senate after passing by a 93-5 vote in the House. HB 1448 would authorize police to notify a designated mental health professional in cases of a threatened or attempted suicide.

A mental health professional would then be required to make contact within 24 hours and assess the person for possible detention. This bill deserves further consideration.

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