Deputy recalls encounter with armed student at South Fork High School

No one hurt after threats made
Posted at 5:51 AM, Nov 30, 2016

Quick thinking from a student, staff and school resource deputy prevented a dangerous situation Tuesday on a high school campus in Martin County from getting worse.

A 10th grade student took a picture on the bus of a 19-year-old special needs student sitting across from him holding a knife.  He told deputies later that the student was making threats.

As the two students got off the bus at South Fork High School, the younger student grabbed the older one’s backpack and yelled he had a knife.

The older student pulled out the knife and then ran off.

School resource Deputy Tom Coleman recognized the armed student and took action.

“He was yelling that he wanted to kill people," said Coleman who has worked at South Fork High School the last three years.

Coleman fired his stun gun twice, but it had little effect.  He then drew his weapon, but did not have to use it as he noticed Asst. Principal Charles Moody approaching from behind.

“(He) removed his belt and was able to wrap it around student from behind, tightening his arms up so we could take him to the ground, subdue him and remove the knife," said Coleman.

Moody released a statement saying, “Student safety is our number one priority.  I was just doing my job.   We all acted quickly to neutralize the situation and I’m thankful that no one was hurt.”

Coleman said his familiarity with the student made this situation even harder.

“It’s tough when you know the students and you don’t know what they’re thinking that day and what could be going on in their head,” said Coleman.

Martin County Sheriff William Snyder says it was fortunate this ended well.

“It was by God’s grace we got through this.  Good training by the sheriff’s office, phenomenal training by school board staff and it worked out like it should have worked out,” said Snyder.

Martin County school superintendent Laurie Gaylord said this was a case where the student took to heart the saying, "If you see something, say something."

Snyder said it's unlikely the armed student will face any charges.  It's unclear if he'll be allowed back on campus again.  

The superintendent says a hearing will determine that.  As to what may have triggered the students behavior, the sheriff said he recently had a death in the family.