Jefferson Superintendent speaks about ‘heroes and helpers’ as classes are set to resume Tuesday
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RIGBY — Jefferson County School District 251 Superintendent Chad Martin said there were a lot of heroes and helpers in last week’s shooting at Rigby Middle School.
Martin spoke during a Facebook live broadcast Monday afternoon as the district is set to return to the classroom tomorrow for the first time since the shooting Thursday.
“We understand this has shaken our community and when we met with staff this morning, we talked about two things,” Martin said. “There are some memes going around that you probably have seen that talk about heroes and helpers.”
After the first 911 call was made, Martin said he first noticed something was wrong when Rigby Police officers and Jefferson County Sherriff’s deputies sped down the road well over 100 mph, turning into the Rigby Middle School parking lot.
“My heart sank,” Martin said. “But they were running towards the danger of an active shooter. As I approached that, I saw teachers that had run towards the danger to assist a fallen student. I also saw another teacher as she had just approached an active shooter and loved a handgun away from her.”
That teacher has been identified by family and friends as Krista Gneiting, an eighth-grade math teacher. Her father told Fox News Gneiting hugged the girl as she removed the gun before anyone else was hurt.
Two students and a custodian, Jim Wilson, were shot and rushed by ambulances to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls. All three of the victims survived and had been released from the hospital as of Monday.
“As I watched the footage of this, I saw teachers run to the hallways to bring students into the safety of their classrooms,” Martin said.
As first responders flooded the scene, community members pitched in and brought food and water to students as they awaited tearful reunions with their families.
Martin referred to a quote from Mr. Fred Rogers that says, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'”
Martin said he saw exactly that as teachers, staff members and the community asked how they could help and said, “Put me to work.”
“I’m grateful for the heroes and the helpers we saw,” Martin said. “I’m grateful for our community that rose in our darkest hour to come together.”
While school is returning Tuesday, the job of investigators is far from over. As of Monday, there were no new updates available from Jefferson County Sherriff Steve Anderson.
“We need to be cautious as we move forward, as we read the news accounts and especially social media,” Martin said. “There is a lot of incorrect rumors and gossip out there. Not only does this hinder the investigation, but it can also be very hurtful.”
In his remarks, Martin said everyone needs to be very careful not to accuse the wrong child or spread rumors about the situation. He said Anderson has put out the facts and will provide updates when they are available.
“Be careful of speculation,” Martin said.
What is known is the alleged shooter is in custody and being held in the Five County Juvenile Detention Center in St. Anthony. Anderson said in a news release Friday that criminal charges are pending while the Jefferson County Prosecutors Office reviews the available information.
While Jefferson School District finishes its last three weeks of school, Martin said an additional 25 counselors have been brought in to assist both students and staff. Additionally, more law enforcement officers will be at the schools to help students and parents feel safe.
“If your student is not ready to come back, please work with your school,” Martin said. “We want to provide a safe environment. We want them to feel safe and we want to do whatever we can to support you as parents and also students as they prepare to come back and finish the school year.”