Last Updated: May 25 at 11:30 p.m. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Authorities say a student is in critical condition and a teacher is stable after they were injured in a shooting at Noblesville West Middle School Friday morning. A male student is in custody and is the only suspect in the shooting.
Noblesville Police Chief Kevin Jowitt says teacher Jason Seaman, 29, is being treated at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. Ella Whistler, 13, is being treated at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. Her family released a statement at 10:38 p.m. Friday saying she is “doing well.”
“Our daughter, Ella Whistler, was involved in a horrific shooting today at her school. We will spend the next days and weeks processing what happened and why. But first, we wanted to say she is doing well at Riley Hospital for Children. Her status is critical, yet we are pleased to report she is stable. We’d like to thank everyone across the country who prayed for our family today. We’ve felt those prayers and appreciate each of them. We’d also like to thank the first responders, Noblesville police, Indiana State Police and the medical staff and surgeons at Riley. Please do not contact our family for further comment at this time. We appreciate you respecting our privacy as we support Ella in her recovery.”
Noblesville Police Lt. Bruce Barnes says the unnamed male student asked to be excused from a classroom Friday morning, then returned with two handguns and opened fire.
Jowitt says police were first alerted at 9:06 a.m. and the student was quickly taken into custody. An NPD statement says a School Resource Officer from the NPD was in the building at the time of the shooting, and “he immediately responded to the area where it was believed that the active shooter was located.”
— Jeanie Lindsay (@jeanjeanielindz) May 25, 2018
Student: Science teacher “swatted the gun out of his hand”
Seventh-grader Ethan Stonebraker says the class was taking a test when the student started shooting. He says Jason Seaman, the injured teacher, likely prevented the shooter from harming more students.
“He took about four to six shots not aiming at anyone specifically like he was waving his hand around,” Stonebraker says. “Then we saw one girl fall to the ground and Mr. Seaman, our science teacher, immediately ran at him, swatted the gun out of his hand, knocked the gun to the ground.”
Jason Seaman’s brother Jeremy, of Arizona, says the teacher has undergone surgery after being shot three times when he intervened.
Jeremy Seaman tells The Indianapolis Star that his brother was conscious after the shooting and talked with his wife, telling her he was OK.
Jason Seaman’s mother posted on Facebook that he was out of surgery and “doing well.”
Jeremy Seaman says his brother was a defensive end for Southern Illinois University’s football team and has never been a person to run away.
Thirteen-year-old Chris Navarro, an eighth grader, says he was in an auditorium when he heard gunshots about a minute before the bell rang for the change in classes. He says a lock down was immediately announced over the school’s speaker. He rushed into a small room with three other people to hide.
Jowitt also says an unrelated threat was made against Noblesville High School, prompting a brief lock down. An investigation found no threat.
Students were transported to the Noblesville High School field house to reunite with their families.
“Our hearts go out to everyone that’s been involved in this horrific tragedy,” says Superintendent Beth Niedermeyer.
Mayor John Ditslear (R-Noblesville) says his heart is breaking.
“We’ve had these shootings around the country, you just never think it can happen in Noblesville, Indiana, and it did,” he says.
What We Know About The Suspect
The alleged shooter could face charges next week in Hamilton County juvenile court. Police say they’ve obtained several search warrants as part of the ongoing investigation.
Law enforcement agents have sealed off part of an upscale neighborhood while they investigate.
A Noblesville police vehicle was parked at the entrance of a culdesac in the tree-lined neighborhood near Morse Reservoir on Friday afternoon. FBI personnel milled about at the end of a shady driveway leading to a home obscured by large trees.
Officers only allowed access of the area to landscaping crews that arrived after the street was blocked.
A member of one crew, Sandy McWilliams, says she was working outside a house three doors away when she looked up and saw six officers enter the home with assault rifles.
Noblesville Police Lt. Bruce Barnes declined to say whether the male student was targeting anyone. He said the suspected shooter wasn’t injured and wouldn’t comment on whether the student had been in trouble before.
Vice President, State Leaders Respond
Gov. Eric Holcomb was on his way back to Indiana after a trip to Europe at the time of the shooting Friday morning. He said he was monitoring the situation with state legislative leaders from the air.
“Approximately 100 state police officers have been made available to work with local responders and will offer all assistance needed,” Holcomb says in a statement. “Our thoughts are with all those affected by this horrible situation.”
Karen and I are praying for the victims of the terrible shooting in Indiana. To everyone in the Noblesville community – you are on our hearts and in our prayers. Thanks for the swift response by Hoosier law enforcement and first responders.
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) May 25, 2018
State Superintendent Jennifer McCormick says her office was in contact with the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.
“We have confidence in Noblesville Schools Superintendent Dr. Beth Niedermeyer and her team, law enforcement, and first responders,” McCormick says in a statement. “The Department stands ready to provide guidance and support and we will provide further statements as information unfolds.”
The Indiana State Teachers Association released a statement calling for action to “keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of dangerous people.”
“This national crisis has landed in our backyard. We all have a responsibility to keep our kids safe from violence, and it’s unconscionable that they live in fear that one day their school may be next. When is enough, enough?” the statement says.
My team and I are in touch with the Governor’s office, Lt. Governor’s office & local authorities regarding the reported shooting at Noblesville West Middle School & we have offered our full and complete support. As details continue to develop, please pray for everyone involved.
— Senator Todd Young (@SenToddYoung) May 25, 2018
I’m closely monitoring the situation at Noblesville West Middle School. I’m praying for the entire Noblesville community, students, teachers, families, and am thankful for our first responders. – Joe
— Senator Joe Donnelly (@SenDonnelly) May 25, 2018
I am thankful to all first responders at the scene working to secure the area & am continuing to monitor the situation. Please monitor @noblesvilleFD & @noblesvillePD for more information & updates. https://t.co/aHWIKbwpWC
— Susan W. Brooks (@SusanWBrooks) May 25, 2018
Our hearts break this morning for the entire Noblesville community. Praying for the students, teachers and families impacted by the shooting. Thankful for the first responders and law enforcement officers for their service during this tragedy. https://t.co/0c5oC0ECF0
— Jim Banks (@RepJimBanks) May 25, 2018
— André Carson (@RepAndreCarson) May 25, 2018
Praying for everyone in the Noblesville community today and thankful for the quick response of our law enforcement. All Hoosiers are hoping those affected make a full recovery. https://t.co/u1ibFRffBv
— Rep. Luke Messer (@RepLukeMesser) May 25, 2018
As the father of 3 kids, including a daughter in middle school, I know too well the terror every parent faces when they hear the news of yet another school shooting. We must continue to push for action that puts a stop to days like this. Indianapolis stands with Noblesville.
— Mayor Joe Hogsett (@IndyMayorJoe) May 25, 2018
Thankful for our first responders and law enforcement during this tragedy. Kelly and I are praying for the Noblesville community, the teachers, the students, and their parents. Our country must find a way, through thoughtful debate, to create a safer world for our children. https://t.co/xoU5wpnjRi
— Trey Hollingsworth (@RepTrey) May 25, 2018