MUNCIE, Ind. – Muncie Community Schools are stressing the importance of school resource officers after two years of close calls within the first week of school.
This same time last August, a teen was arrested at Muncie Central High School with knives. On Wednesday, a different teen was found outside the school with a loaded gun.
Muncie Central High School Resource Officer Brandon Qualls responded to both incidents.
“I guess I’m just at the right place at the right time," said Qualls. "They both happened at Muncie Central, but luckily, Muncie Community Schools take school safety very serious.”
Qualls said he went home Wednesday night, hugged his family and with tears in his eyes thought, "this could have been a different kind of day."
Wednesday started out normal for him.
“I give probably 500 fist bumps and half hugs and high fives throughout the day, and joke around with the kids," said Qualls. "And I mean that was how my day was going up until this.”
A tip lead resource officers to a 15-year-old boy with a loaded gun right outside the school. He was arrested within minutes.
“And I think maybe if we hadn’t worked on that positive relationship and built that trust that maybe this person wouldn’t have told us anything and we may have had a very different outcome yesterday,” said Qualls.
That’s why Muncie Community Schools are thanking School Resource Officers.
“We would never want to have this situation, but if we have it, it could not have ended any better,” said Lee Ann Kwiatkowski, CEO and Director of Public Education for Muncie Community Schools.
She said the officers really go above and beyond with their interactions with the students.
“They have a Twitter account where they put out on social media those different activities and different ways they are building those relationships,” said Kwiatkowski.
Qualls stressed how he wasn't the only officer who responded to this incident. He said there are usually upwards of six resource officers at the high school per day.
We asked Qualls if he thinks the student would have been able to make it into the school with the handgun. He said it was not likely due to the fact all of the school doors are locked and the only way in is through the main entrance.
“They have to come in through the front door where there is an armed police officer checking them in, figuring out why they are there,” said Qualls.
However, he isn't sure the student was headed into the building with the loaded gun. He was arrested across the street about 20 minutes before dismissal.
“At the end of the school day, all the students walk outside," said Qualls. "And I mean, we walk outside also to make sure they are safe but it’s scary to think about.”
Muncie police are still investigating how that student got a gun and what he planned to do with it.