Parents concerned over criminally charged juvenile’s possible return to school; police clarify incident


GARRETT, Ind. (WANE) – Parents of students at Garrett-Keyser-Butler Community Schools are concerned after a juvenile charged in connection to a Garrett shooting is allegedly allowed to return to school.

WANE 15 previously reported that around 10:40 p.m. on September 2, a man was shot in the shoulder in the 400 block of East Keyser Street in Garrett. The man – identified later as Thomas R. Bryant of Garrett – was taken to a hospital in serious condition.

Garrett Police, with help from Indiana State Police investigators, were able to develop leads and questioned two juveniles before arresting them. From there, the Dekalb County Prosecutor’s Office filed charges although it is unknown what the juveniles are charged with. The case is being handled through the DeKalb County Juvenile Probation Division.

Few details were released of the shooting itself, but after several rumors that one of the juveniles was threatening Garrett-Keyser-Butler Community Schools made their rounds, the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office issued a press release clarifying the shooting incident, stating two juveniles approximately 14 years old “intended to play a prank on a known associate. They did so by allegedly firing a bb/pellet gun through a tent hitting the associate.”

The release went on to address the new rumors, stating: “all leads which have been reported are being investigated, but have revealed no credible threat at this time. The student involved is no longer on campus.”

An automated voice message was sent out to parents Tuesday morning addressing rumors, but several parents reported hearing about the threats from their children before being informed by the school. Some felt this meant the school was not taking the situation as seriously as they should have.

“I feel like the parents should be more aware of the situation that’s going on, even if they have to keep names out,” said parent Shera Thomas. “I feel like to know that there is a potential threat and to not take extreme caution for it, I feel like it’s just setting up for failure.”

Although the police determined that the reported threats were not credible, parents fear the environment that has been created in the school as a result will have a negative impact on their kids’ mental health.

“I’m more concerned about my child’s mental health, as well,” said parent Christina Heyman. “Her being in the school and her being scared, not knowing what this child could do.”

“I just want it to be a safe environment,” said parent Heather Wetly. “This is school. They’re supposed to come to school, learn, be with their friends, enjoy, you know? Not feel like they’re not safe.”

Garrett-Keyser-Butler Community Schools superintendent Tonya Weaver said the district does not plan on putting out a media statement, but said that in cases where students are facing criminal charges the district works with law enforcement on a case-by-case basis to determine the best way to proceed with that juvenile’s education.

Another automated message was sent out Wednesday night. The message, read by Superintendent Tonya Weaver, said that a student was attending school on pre-trial release and that steps were taken to address the issue in the best interests of students and staff. According the message, student privacy laws limit what the school can say, but that the school and parents had agreed to share that the student in question will continue his education off-campus.

It ended with Weaver assuring parents that the school would continue to monitor this situation and any other that could affect the school environment and that the school and parents will continue to work together for the safety of all students. Hear the entire automated message below.

This article has been corrected to reflect that the Dekalb County Sheriff’s Office issued a press release regarding the incident, and not the Garrett Police Department.

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