Well, just in case you’ve been living under a rock during the past twenty four hours, this morning’s big story is yesterday’s lock-down of Manchester High School West. The school was locked down around eight A M after the student resource officer was alerted by a student to the alleged presence of a twenty one year old former West student with a gun in the building. Damian Johnson entered the building with students as they were coming into the school for the day. There are differing reports as to whether or not the pellet gun he was found to have had was in the waistband of his pants or if he’d showed it to a female student while in the building.
Regardless, a massive police response followed as lights were shut, shades were drawn, doors were locked and children were huddled into so called safe corners within their classrooms. SWAT teams from the Manchester Police Department and New Hampshire State Police were on the scene in minutes, as were multiple Manchester police, state police and Hillsborough County Sheriff Department vehicles which descended on the scene shutting down the streets bordering the multi block school and its surrounding neighborhoods. After alerting the police, the school resource officer was unable to locate the intruder where he was last reported to be. As eight thirty neared, Principal Christopher Motika notified parents of the situation via email. Police officials, including here on Girard at Large, urged parents not to contact them and said they would disseminate any and all information they had via the media as it came available, which they did. Johnson was found about an hour after the lock down. He had been in a special ed classroom with students and their teacher for the entire time the school was locked down.
Police Chief David J. Mara said that while Johnson did not brandish the weapon while in the school and did not threaten anybody or act in an aggressive or hostile manner while there, officials were interested to know his motives for being there. At the same press conference where Mara made those remarks, and in a subsequent statement issued by the Manchester School District, Superintendent Debra Livingston said school officials acted by the book, properly following all emergency protocols. Johnson, was removed from the premises at roughly ten minutes after nine. The pellet gun and knife he brought into the school were found separately as he’d hid them in a duffel bag and removed from the school at the time he was taken away. The lock down was lifted at about twenty minutes to ten. Parents were notified by email that the crisis had ended safely at about quarter to one. Mara and Livingston both praised the police response with Mara saying there would be an after incident debriefing, probably on Monday, to assess the response and see how the experience could improve performance for a future event.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
It looks as if the cage has been officially rattled at the headquarters of the Timberlane Regional School District. As listeners of this show know, an attorney for School Board Member Donna Green sent a letter last week making demands that the district provide certain information and cease certain actions. In light of the letter, we sent our own Right to Know request to obtain certain pieces of information, including a copy of the security video Green says will clear her of the wrongdoing Superintendent Earl “F. dot” Metzler alleged in launching a criminal complaint with the Plaistown Police Department.
Our request for the video went unacknowledged, despite multiple inquiries, until yesterday when we received a letter via email from Attorney Susan Sofman, on behalf of the district, advising me that I may obtain a copy of the video from the school district’s administrative office. Oh, and memo Manchester, whose policy on same violates the Right to Know Law, if I bring my own thumb drive to obtain the video, there is no fee. If they provide the thumb drive, they’ll charge me for the drive. As there is no cost for copying the file electronically to my thumb drive from their computer, they can’t, under the law, assess a fee. Looks like letter from Green’s attorney has finally got someone down there paying attention to the law. You can bet we’re on our way to get that video.
A W O L! Thats the word on Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Health Care Queen, as the Boston Herald reports she’d missed a dizzying number of meetings on counter terrorism and the treat of ISIS as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In a front page story, yesterday, the Herald detailed the findings of their investigation into Shaheen’s attendance record over the past two sessions of Congress. According to the report, Shaheen missed eleven of thirty meetings where national security officials gave reports on terrorist threats, including those from ISIS, and another three meetings where no report was issued. Shaheen also missed nine of thirty meetings in the prior session. All in all, she missed twenty three meetings at which vital national security issues, such as the rise of ISIS, policy toward Iran, terrorist threats and counter terrorism tactics, among others were discussed.
Former Senator Gordon Humphrey, who also served on the Foreign Relations Committee issued a statement saying Shaheen should be fired for absenteeism. Quote “That committee’s work is vital to national security, vital to the safety of every New Hampshire man, woman and child. For Senator Shaheen to have skipped out on 14 of the committee’s 30 meetings this session alone, is an astonishing case of dereliction of duty. That she absented herself from the hearing where counterterrorism officials warned of the ISIS danger, is more than disappointing, it’s shocking.” He said that New Hampshire needed a senator that would take the issues of border and national security seriously. We’ve linked to the Herald’s story from this newscast at Girard at Large dot com so you can get all the details.
Finally, add Londonderry and Manchester to the list of police departments that are participating in tomorrow’s Drug Take Back Day. Manchester will accept the unwanted, unused or expired prescription pills at the National Guard Armory on Canal Street while departments in Londonderry, Merrimack, Bedford, Bow and Goffstown have announced they will accept them at their police department headquarters from ten to two.
That’s News from our own backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ is next.