An eighth grade student takes his own life inside a Stillwater school Wednesday morning.
Stillwater police say 13-year-old Cade Poulos died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound inside the Stillwater Junior High School around 7:50 a.m. Wednesday.
During a news conference Wednesday morning in front of the Stillwater Public Schools Building, Captain Randy Dickerson with the Stillwater Police Department said a resource officer at the school heard the gunshot and shortly after discovered Poulos in a hallway near lockers and a couple of classrooms.
"It's a horribly tragic situation," Dickerson said.
There were approximately six students in the area when the shooting occurred. Captain Dickerson said Poulos used a handgun.
Once the resource officer realized what happened, police say the school was placed on lockdown.
"Our first priority was safety of our students and staff," said Ann Caine, Superintendent of Stillwater Public Schools. "We had an emergency evacuation plan that worked perfectly."
Junior High students were transferred to Cimarron Plaza for parents to pick up beginning at 9 a.m. Students who normally ride the bus were taken home.
Caine said in her 30 plus years in education, she had never experienced something like this. She also offered condolences to Poulos' family and friends. She said while it was early in the school year, he was a good student and well-liked by his teachers.
"They loved his red hair and big smile," Caine said. "They say he had the biggest smile."
Police said the investigation is ongoing and did not release any information about the possibility Poulos was bullied. In fact, Caine said there had not been any bullying incidents reported involving Poulos.
"We did look in our computer system," said Caine. "He was a good student and nothing in the computer showed that any bullying incident had happened. At this time, there is no indication that this is what occurred."
Caine said students at the school were participating in Cancer Awareness Week with a dressed theme each day. Wednesday, she said, was superhero day, where students were dressed as their favorite super heroes. Police did not confirm if Poulos was dressed in costume.
SJHS is an eighth- and ninth-grade center and has between 750-760 students, Caine said.
Skyline Elementary School, which is located next to the Junior High School, was under a temporary lockdown.
All Stillwater schools, except the Junior High, will have a regular school day Wednesday. Caine said the district is working on a counseling plan and expects to have counselors available to students, staff and faculty moving forward.
A staff meeting will be held at the school at 6:30 a.m. on Thursday. Counselors will also be handing out leaflets to students concerning family counseling.
Classes will resume at their normal time and everything is expected to be on schedule. A vigil will be held for Poulos at the Highland United Methodist Church at 5th and Pollard in Stillwater tonight at 7 p.m.
School officials say they have always had a close working relationship with the Stillwater Police Department and have resource officers stationed on campus. The entrances to the school were reconfigured recently, making both students and visitors sign in before entering the building. The school is also equipped with surveillance cameras.
Officials say that all of the students were moved to other locations and picked up within two hours of the shooting.
The family of the victim has not said whether or not this was a case of bullying and there has been no official word on the cause. Police are still investigating.
Stillwater Public School officials issued the following press release:
Following an emergency meeting of the Stillwater Public School Board of Education it was determined the junior high will open tomorrow. School will resume on time and all extracurricular activities will take place as scheduled.
The district will have counselors on hand to help both students and staff in this tragic situation.
"It is imperative that our district ensures all students and staff have the proper resources to help them work through the healing process following such a tragedy," said Stillwater Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Ann Caine. The entire family of Stillwater Public Schools is deeply saddened by the death of Stillwater Junior High School student.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family during this most difficult time," said Caine, Superintendent of Stillwater Public Schools.
There is no indication at this time that bullying played a role in this incident but the district will continue to monitor the situation and cooperate with the investigation being conducted by Stillwater Police Department. It appears the incident at the junior high was isolated and there is no indication that additional students at the junior high were involved or that students at other school sites were ever in immediate danger. Following the shooting junior high students were transported to a secondary site where they were reunited with family or designated guardians within two hours of the incident.
"The emergency evacuation plan the district has in place worked and we were able to get students at the junior high to a safe place and get them home," said Caine. "The Stillwater Community is blessed to have so many caring organizations and agencies to help us as we begin this healing process, "said Caine. Teams of counselors will be providing services to the junior high students, faculty and staff.