Elida pupil faces possible expulsion after bringing knives to school

The following article was originally published by The Lima News. Republished with permission.

ELIDA — An Elida Middle School student plotting to kill the principal and others arrived at the school Wednesday armed with weapons but stopped just short of carrying out his plan.

The 13-year-old boy is a seventh-grader at Elida Middle School. He had three knives, a box cutter, a miniature baseball bat and other items with which he planned to use to make a torch. His plan was two weeks in the making, said Chief Matt Redick of the American Township Police Department.

"His plan was to walk into the principal's office, kill the principal and assistant principal and then he was going to roam the halls and if anybody approached him, he was going to kill them. Then he was going to go into his classroom and go nuts," Redick said.

The incident played out in the early afternoon. The teen, whose name is not being released due to his age, walked into the principal's office with a knife with a 4-inch long blade in the front pocket of his sweatshirt and a box cutter in his right front pants pocket, Redick said.

He initially asked about the school's lockdown procedure and was sent in to talk to Principal David Morman, officials said.

Instead of carrying out his plan, the teen told the principal about his plot. He never tried to assault the principal and no one was injured, Redick said.

The teen then told the principal he had two more knives in his locker, a steak knife with a 5-inch blade and a serrated knife with a 7-inch blade. Also in his locker was a miniature souvenir-type baseball bat, Redick said.

School official retrieved the weapons from his locker, Redick said.

Police were called, and the pupil was taken into custody and transferred to the juvenile detention center.

Redick questioned the teen about his plan.

"He said he"s been hearing voices for a while and that he was planning this for about two weeks," Redick said. "He told me he had voices telling him to do this."

The teen planned to attack after he had lunch at about 1 p.m., Redick said.

Redick asked the teen why he did not carry out the plot.

"He finally decided he was not going to hurt anybody," Redick said. "Luckily, in this case, nothing did go any further."

The teen also realized his plan was not well conceived, Redick said.

The chief asked the boy if the boy would have carried out his plan if he had been able to secure other weapons. The student said no, Redick said.

Redick said the type of weapon the teen had was inconsequential, referring to reactions to other school violence episodes.

"It's a prime example that guns and knives do not kill people. People kill people," Redick said. "Had this had gone through and had he injured or killed anyone using a knife, would the same argument come out that we need to ban knives?"

The chief said the case is about the teen's struggle with mental health problems that led him to nearly carry out the attack, not the type of weapon he used or could have used.

The teen will now have a chance to get the help he needs, Redick said.

The teen never was in trouble in school prior to the incident and was not someone teachers worried about, Redick said.

But the chief said mental health issues can be hard to identify.

Elida Superintendent Don Diglia was relieved no one was injured and the teen backed out. He gave credit to staff members and the relationships they have with children as a possible reason the teen did not go through with his plan. He said that relationship may have been just enough for the boy to seek help, Diglia said.

By Thursday afternoon, Diglia posted a message to the Elida schools Facebook page telling people about the incident. Diglia said he wanted people to have the facts and to be reassured that "our administration and staff take the safety of your student, of all our students, very seriously."

Diglia listed his phone number and e-mail address on the post should anyone want to contact him about the incident.

Elida Middle School has classes for children in fifth through eighth grades.

School officials quickly determined the boy was acting alone so the school was not placed on lockdown and no one was sent home, Redick said.

The teen was suspended from school and could face expulsion, Diglia said.

He is being held in the Allen County Juvenile Detention Center. The teen had a detention hearing Thursday where Judge Glenn Derryberry ordered he be held. The teen, who sat next to his mother, did not make a statement.

Assistant Allen County Prosecutor Chris Steffan asked the judge to order a psychological evaluation on the child.

His next court appearance will be in the next few weeks to answer to the charges prosecutors file. He is expected to face a felony charge of possession of weapons in a school.

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