U.S. senator, state political leaders torn by school shooting at Olathe high school

Olathe superintendent praises first responders, Olathe East community

By: - March 4, 2022 6:42 pm
U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, touring Kansas on Friday with the FBI director, responded to the shooting at Olathe East High School by expressing despair violence came to a Kansas school and certainty the country required greater investment in mental health services. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, touring Kansas on Friday with the FBI director, responded to the shooting at Olathe East High School by expressing despair violence came to a Kansas school and certainty the country required greater investment in mental health services. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — State and federal officials and the Olathe schools superintendent responded to shootings Friday at Olathe East High School with a mixture of shock at reality of the armed incursion and a sense of relief a school resource officer was present to intervene.

The Olathe Police Department said an 18-year-old male student wounded by school resource Officer Erik Clark had been taken into custody on the high school campus. Clark and an Olathe East administrator were wounded in a melee in the school’s office. The police department said there were no reports of other injured students.

“It saddens me, of course, that this happened in Kansas. We’re not immune,” said U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, a Republican visiting Topeka with FBI Director Christopher Wray. “We have law enforcement and educators who have responded in a way that is protecting other people, which makes us proud of their love, care and compassion for other Kansans.”

Moran said the incident demonstrated Kansas schools, cities and counties needed additional financial resources to provide mental health services capable of improving the potential of intervening with counseling before a crisis erupted.

House Speaker Ron Ryckman, R-Olathe, said he was grateful to the student resource officer at Olathe East who acted to protect children from harm. He urged people to keep in prayers the officer and other individuals touched by Olathe schools.

Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly, of Topeka, said her office had been in contact with local law enforcement and monitored events that unfolded after reports that shots were fired at 10:30 a.m. in the school building.

“Our thoughts are with the entire Olathe East High School community today,” Kelly said.

Brent Yeager, superintendent of Olathe public schools, praised Olathe Superintendent Brent Yeager expressed appreciation for first responders, students, staff and families in wake of a shooting at Olathe East High School injuring two adult staff members and an 18-year-old student who was the alleged instigator. (Kansas Reflector screen capture from Olathe school district video)
Brent Yeager, superintendent of Olathe public schools, praised first responders, students, staff and families in wake of the Friday shooting at Olathe East High School injuring two staff members and an 18-year-old student. (Kansas Reflector screen capture from Olathe school district video)

The three individuals wounded by gunfire at the high school were taken to Overland Park Regional Medical Center, KCUR reported. Two of the patients had been discharged by afternoon. One individual was in critical condition at the hospital, KCUR said.

In a video presentation, Olathe Superintendent Brent Yeager expressed appreciation to first responders, students, staff and families in wake of the shooting.

“The past few hours have brought to reality a situation that we have prepared for but hoped we would never have to face,” Yeager said. “I want to thank our incredible staff members at Olathe East for their strength, their bravery and their calming presence as they support students and one another.”

Colleen Cunningham, a volunteer with the Kansas chapter of Moms Demand Action, said that during an average year 434 people died and 878 were wounded by gunfire in Kansas.

“Kids should not have to grow up in fear of gun violence in their schools, or in their communities. We need tangible solutions to gun violence, and will keep working to keep Kansans safe,” she said.

Senate Minority Leader Dinah Sykes, a Democrat from Lenexa, said she was “so sad for our students, families and staff impacted by this horrific event” and that her “heart is hurting” for people connected to Olathe East High School.

The injured and their families will need time to heal as will the Olathe school community shaken by the violence, said House Minority Leader Tom Sawyer of Wichita.

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Tim Carpenter
Tim Carpenter

Tim Carpenter has reported on Kansas for 35 years. He covered the Capitol for 16 years at the Topeka Capital-Journal and previously worked for the Lawrence Journal-World and United Press International. He has been recognized for investigative reporting on Kansas government and politics. He won the Kansas Press Association's Victor Murdock Award six times. The William Allen White Foundation honored him four times with its Burton Marvin News Enterprise Award. The Kansas City Press Club twice presented him its Journalist of the Year Award and more recently its Lifetime Achievement Award. He earned an agriculture degree at Kansas State University and grew up on a small dairy and beef cattle farm in Missouri. He is an amateur woodworker and drives Studebaker cars.

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