CINCINNATI - The La Salle High School student who shot himself in a classroom in front of other students is in critical condition at University of Cincinnati Medical Center, officials said.
The shooting, during the school's first class Monday morning, was first reported to Hamilton County dispatchers at about 9 a.m. at La Salle's campus in Green Township on North Bend Road.
No one else was harmed in the shooting, which was contained to one room, officials said. It remained unclear how the student, believed to be a junior, got the gun into school.
The school notified parents via email about the shooting via email about 35 minutes after it was reported.
Green Township Police Chief Bart West said that township officers and Hamilton County deputies arrived at the scene at almost exactly the same time.
Officials said that there was no resource officer at the school and district officials said the school does not have metal detectors.
Family Asks for Privacy
WCPO reporter Kendall Herold said a priest from La Salle High School was seen at the hospital shortly after the victim arrived. At about 10:45 a.m., Herold said a "visibly upset" woman and two young men arrived at the hospital in a vehicle with a La Salle sticker on it.
At about 12:45 p.m., the victim's family spoke to the media, thanking the community for their thoughts and prayers. They asked for privacy and that friends not post information on social media.
School Put On Immediate Lockdown
During an earlier news conference, officials said the school was placed on immediate lockdown and the situation was dealt with quickly.
Students were taken to the gym by officers. La Salle Director of Community Development Greg Tankersley said counselors were also sent to speak with students.
"We just ask that you pray for him and his family as he goes through fighting for his life today," he said.
Tankersley added: "It's a very tragic situation for a Monday morning and we're doing everything we can. Our No. 1 priority is with that student that was involved and the students in that building."
Parents Rush to School
Parents could be seen streaming to the school by about 9:45 a.m. Officials said the lockdown was ended at about 10 a.m.
Traffic was blocked on North Bend Road as hundreds of parents came to the school to pick up their children. Parents were taken to a cafeteria before their children were released to them.
"Our faith at our high school is very strong. I think one thing you'll see is our young men and our families is pull together in the good times and the bad. There's tears in the building, because no one wants to go through this," Tankersley said.
Students who drive themselves to school were to be released after parents picked up the other students. Students whose parents have not arrived yet are being allowed to stay at the school. Most students have decided to leave the school.
La Salle officials stressed that the shooting was an isolated incident.
"La Salle is a tremendous school, it's a strong school and it's a school that has unfortunately faced tragedy before and it always impressed me with its strength and faith. I know that our students will rally together with the community and move forward." Superintendent of Archdiocese Schools Dr. Jim Rigg said.
Friar Kyle Schnippel, the Vocation Director for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, released a statement on Twitter saying, " Shooting at Cincinnati LaSalle Catholic High School. One injured apparently. Prayers for all involved!"
Cincinnati City Councilman Charlie Winburn was one of the parents who came to the scene. His son is enrolled at La Salle.
"It's just so unfortunate for all the kids who are involved," Winburn said.
A Mass had been scheduled for 11 a.m., according to the school's website. Exams were slated to start May 28 and AP exams were supposed to start on May 6.
Archdiocese official Dan Andriacco said school is being dismissed. He said the district is still trying to determine if classes will be held Tuesday and how to procede with end-of-the-school-year activities.
"They have to figure out what's going to be best for the students and how to give them the adequate care they need," Andriacco said.
He said initial reports of the security response at La Salle High School in response to the student who reportedly shot himself in his class Monday morning worked properly.
"Each school has a plan," Andriacco said. He added none of the Catholic schools in Cincinnati have metal detectors.
District leaders and police said they plan to review La Salle's security plan and the incident later Monday.
Parents who spoke with 9 On You Side said they were shocked and frightened at the incident.
Mike Welsh's grandson is a junior at La Salle. He said when he first saw the reports about the incident on television he thought, "It's guns again. That's the first thing I thought."
WCPO Digital's Kareem Elgazzar spoke with Travis Christman whose son attends La Salle.
Christman said, "I heard it on the news,
me on the phone. I knew he was safe (and) I knew he wouldn't have done that so I wasn't too concerned, but it was nice to hear his voice. Young kids, they've done this since the beginning of time, I mean stress happens in their lives and they don't know how to deal with it."
Jamie Bueter said he was notified of the shooting by family members before being contacted by his son.
"Kids are kids and teenagers have the same problems regardless of upbringing and what school they go to. I just feel for the family. At this point I'm still kind of in shock and awe," Bueter said.
The Cincinnati community as a whole is also reaching out to the La Salle students and family through social media. On Twitter, the hashtag #prayforlasalle is propagating quickly as people send well-wishes and prayers to those affected.
9 On Your Side spoke with Elder High School Principal Tom Otten who said that once he learned of the incident, he allowed his students to use their cellphones to call home and let their parents know that they were OK.
Elder also gave permission for its counselors to respond to La Salle if need be.
Otten said the immediate lesson he is taking from the incident is, "It's never to late to talk to someone." The principal said his staff is speaking that message to students.
Officials at St. Xavier High School they have not been asked to assist La Salle but will be ready and willing to do so. School leaders said a prayer was sent out over the PA system after they learned of the incident.
La Salle High School is a Catholic, all-male, parochial high school. The school is at 3091 North Bend Road. District officials said approximately 700 students are enrolled there.
According to the school's Wikipedia page, La Salle was opened Sept. 6, 1960 and named in honor of Jean-Baptiste de la Salle, a French priest and educational reformer. The school was officially dedicated May 14, 1961. First-year students begin in either the Honors or Advanced College Prep level.