Letter: Secure entrances, remove access to avoid shootings

From: Kermet Merl Key


On Feb. 14, 17 people were murdered by a mass shooter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The shooter was dropped off at the school near the end of the school day. He carried a duffel bag and a backpack.

According to a police report, a staff member spotted him and radioed a colleague to say that the shooter was walking purposefully toward the building. The shooter entered a three-story building that normally contained 900 students and 30 teachers, pulled a fire alarm to create mass confusion, then for nearly six minutes shot indiscriminately at staff, teachers and students. A school resource officer remained outside the building during the shooting. School surveillance camera footage later identified the shooter, and he was captured.

On March 20, a 17-year-old gunman entered the hallway at Great Mills High School in southern Maryland then shot two students, murdering 16-year-old Jaelynn Willey and injuring 14-year-old Desmond Barnes. The shooter was confronted by a student resource officer and died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Surveillance cameras at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School did not stop nor deter the murder of 17 students. The fear of being identified and captured did not deter him. There were armed student resource officers in both Florida and Maryland. Armed and trained officers did not deter either shooter from committing murder.

These murderers and every perpetrator of school gun violence have one thing in common: access. It is what Columbine, Sandy Hook, Parkland and Maryland all have in common: Determined murderers can get a gun into a school.

Several Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. schools have very limited access, but a determined murderer would be able to walk directly into the main office of our schools and shoot staff, teachers and any students within that office, thus gaining access to the rest of the building, before anyone was able to stop them. It is a scenario no one wants to imagine, but it is a preventable scenario. Even a determined killer can be stopped if he is met at the door.

To ensure the safety of every child at every school every day of the week, we need all entrances to the building secured. Side doors would only be accessible to staff, teachers and administrators via key cards, and main entrances where students and visitors enter the building will be guarded by trained, armed student resource officers with metal detectors. No one entering a school building would be able to get past the first door without passing through a metal detector operated by an armed officer. No one would have the ability to get a gun into a school without direct confrontation. It would immediately make schools safe from shooters. No delay. No study.

Budgetary costs and statistical figures would mean very little to us should we lose a child that we could’ve protected. And we can protect every child in our schools by preventing murderers from having access to them. We can. And we will.