School district where 2 students died adds officers, bans backpacks

BENTON, Ky. — A Kentucky district where two students were killed and 21 others were hurt in a school shooting will add police officers, install metal detectors and ban backpacks at middle and high schools.

News outlets report a district safety committee approved the measures Monday in response to the Jan. 23 shooting at Marshall County High School, where 14 students were wounded by gunfire and seven others were injured trying to flee a crowded common area. Authorities have charged a 15-year-old boy with murder and assault.

The new security measures will include walk-through metal detectors at all entrances of the high school and both middle schools, and increasing the number of school resource officers from one to five. Under the new procedures, elementary students will still be allowed to use backpacks, but only if they are made of see-through material.

In a message to parents, Marshall County Superintendent Trent Lovett said he hopes the measures being implemented at the beginning of the 2018-19 school year will enable students to feel more secure.

“We just want to make the schools as safe as we possibly can,” Lovett said. “I wish we could guarantee something like that will never happen again but I can’t do it. We want these students to feel safe and we are doing everything we can to ensure that.”

Some adults in the community weren’t impressed.

“Any semi-smart person, especially a mentally disturbed one, can bypass these measures,” said Dave Watson, an advocate of arming teachers who sells military and law enforcement equipment in the county, in a Facebook post. “Also, lines waiting for security checks are a ‘target rich environment’ that falls outside the security cordon. All they are doing is moving the shooting location to outside the front door.”