A 16-year-old Jefferson County Public School student was shot and killed Wednesday morning while waiting for the school bus.
Another two students were shot and injured. One student, a 13-year-old, was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries while the other student, 14, who police say was grazed on the ankle, was treated at the scene.
One Russell resident described the scene as chaotic, with children running, screaming and trying to take cover. Another described the shooting as awful, particularly because children were affected.
Students were waiting at Dr. W.J. Hodge Street and West Chestnut Street for a bus heading to Eastern High School.
“Our school bus arrived shortly after the incident, and we know how this impacted all of the students that were there at the bus stop, so this was traumatic for every single student at the bus stop, every single student at the school,” said JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio at a press conference Wednesday.
Louisville Metro Police Department is working with the local FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives field offices to investigate.
“LMPD immediately started working on gathering information, pulling videos, cameras and putting any and every resource toward this crime, toward solving this heinous crime,” said LMPD Chief Erika Shields.
Police are looking for a gray Jeep Cherokee with Illinois plate BD91644. The car was seen at the scene of the shooting.
Shields and representatives from the FBI and ATF asked the community to call the tip line with any helpful information regarding the shooting at 502-574-5673.
Shields went on to call for JCPS to have its own police force and school resources officers stationed in every school.
“Without having dedicated school resource officers who are trained in identifying gang members, identifying potential conflict, having that constant, ongoing communication, we are lacking critical intelligence,” said Shields.
JCPS has been considering creating an internal police force since 2019, when LMPD pulled its 17 officers from schools over budget issues. Later the school board voted not to renew contracts with 11 SROs from the Jeffersontown and Shively police departments.
Shields’ comments drew swift criticism from Jefferson County Board of Education member Chris Kolb, a frequent critic of LMPD.
I am absolutely disgusted that it took @LMPD Chief Shields less than six hours to cynically use the murder of a child to push for a measure that will do nothing to improve safety and will further marginalize black students. Shameful and reprehensible. https://t.co/3KFrNhGXtI
— Chris Kolb 🧰📚📝🌹✝️ (@cmkolb) September 22, 2021
JCPS sent officials to the scene of the shooting this morning and sent out the crisis response team to Eastern High School to help students, staff and faculty process the shooting.
“Our primary goal is to give them a safe space to talk, give them positive coping skills, and we’re triaging students and identifying students that may need more additional intensive counseling and intervention,” JCPS counseling specialist Michelle Sircy said Wednesday afternoon.
JCPS also sent members of the crisis response team to Crosby Middle School. Students from Crosby were waiting at a nearby bus stop at the time of the shooting.
JCPS spokeswoman Renee Murphy said they plan to have extra support at the bus stop when students arrive home from school Wednesday afternoon, with more support planned based on needs assessments.
Around 20 children have been killed in Louisville in 2021, and more than 75 have been injured by gunfire—many of them JCPS students.
The Office of Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods is also providing support to the Russell community in response to this morning’s shooting.
“What we have been doing this morning as an office is mobilizing our Pivot to Peace initiative,” said Monique Williams, Director of the Office of Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods.
This includes multiple programs that work with victims of violence, the community and LMPD to build support and gather information.
A big focus of “Pivot to Peace” is to curb retaliatory efforts.
“Unfortunately when things like this happen, if you don’t have an intervention strategy, then you’re looking at the next 10 incidents like this happening,” said Williams.
Working together to recover from violence and stop it in the future was a running message at the morning press conference.
“Everyone in Louisville is responsible for Louisville,” said Metro Council Member Jecorey Arthur, who represents the 4th district where the shooting took place.
He called on Louisville residents to come together by building community within their neighborhoods in order to effect change.
“My job is to pass laws, Mayor Fischer’s job is to make sure that those laws actually happen. The chief’s job is to make sure those laws are enforced. What is your job?” said Arthur.
KyCIR’s Jacob Ryan contributed to this reporting.