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Sunday, April 21
The Indiana Daily Student

Student in custody after shooting at Noblesville West Middle School, two victims taken to hospitals


A male student is in custody and two victims, a student and a teacher, were taken to hospitals after a shooting Friday morning at Noblesville West Middle School in Noblesville, Indiana.

Noblesville Police Chief Kevin Jowitt said at a press conference Friday afternoon the Hamilton County Communications Center received a call of an active shooter at 9:06 a.m. Friday at the middle school.

Jowitt said a male student asked to be excused from his class at the middle school, left the classroom, then returned armed with two handguns. Jowitt said the classroom is where the shooting took place, and the situation was resolved extremely quickly.

Both victims suffered gunshot wounds during the incident. The adult victim, a teacher at the school, has been identified by family members as Jason Seaman. A 29-year-old former football player at Southern Illinois University, Seaman is a science teacher and football coach at the middle school, according to the IndyStar.

"Our science teacher immediately ran at him, swatted a gun out of his hand and tackled him to the ground," Ethan Stonebreaker, a seventh-grade student at the school, told the Associated Press. "If it weren't for him, more of us would have been injured for sure.”

Seaman was transported to IU Health-Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis.

A Facebook post from Seaman's mother, Kristi Seaman, said her son was out of surgery and doing well after being shot three times, once each through the abdomen, in the hip and in the forearm. 

Rep. Susan Brooks, R-5th District, confirmed Seaman was released from the hospital Saturday. Brooks said she met with him Saturday at the school.

The student victim has been identified by family members as 13-year-old Ella Whistler. She was taken to Riley Hospital, also in Indianapolis.  

Whistler's family released a statement to WTHR about the shooting Friday night.

"Our daughter, Ella Whistler, was involved in a horrific shooting today at her school. We will spend the next days and weeks processing what happened and why," the statement read. "But first, we wanted to say she is doing well at Riley Hospital for Children. Her status is critical, yet we are pleased to report she is stable. We’d like to thank everyone across the country who prayed for our family today."

Noblesville Police Lt. Bruce Barnes said the shooter was apprehended inside or near the classroom in which the shooting took place, and a number of search warrants have been issued for the suspect.

Following a lockdown at the middle school due to the shooting, students were taken by bus to Noblesville High School.

Superintendent of Noblesville Schools, Dr. Beth Niedermeyer, said faculty and students correctly followed procedures as they evacuated the middle school.

A communicated threat was then reported at the high school, which prompted a temporary lock down, according to an email the district sent to parents.

Parents were able to pick up their students at any of the Noblesville schools, but the schools also had a regular dismissal so working parents could pick up their kids at the normal time.

Past 3 p.m. Friday, police cars and firetrucks were still outside of the high school. American Red Cross Disaster Relief vehicles were also on scene, as volunteers set up tents and handed out water bottles to families arriving to pick up their middle-school children. 

Parents parked their cars by the tents and sprinted to their children. Some were smiling, ready to embrace their children, while others covered their eyes to hide their tears.

“Quite the day you had,” one father said to his son, arm around his shoulders.

Jowitt said the middle school was cleared by several EMS units and the scene is secure. 

Caution tape still lined the perimeter of the middle school Friday afternoon. The tape was let down and put back up to allow first responder vehicles in and out of the campus.

Both Barnes and Jowitt said a school resource officer was inside the middle school and responded when the shooting occurred.

The shooting took place one week after 10 people were killed in a school shooting at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas.

"We've had these shootings around the country," Noblesville Mayor John Ditslear said. "You just never think it could happen in Noblesville, Indiana."

The motive of the now-detained shooter is unclear, and the scene is still under investigation. Police said there is no reason to believe a threat is still imminent. 

More information is expected to be released in the coming days.

To read reactions from Indiana lawmakers and leaders, go here.

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