School attacks remain, thankfully, rare. Rarer still is an attack stopped by a teacher, but that was the case on May 25, 2018 at Noblesville West Middle School in Noblesville, Indiana. Fox News reports:
Seventh-grade student Ethan Stonebraker told The Associated Press that his science teacher at Noblesville West Middle School charged at the suspect, who he said revealed a weapon while the class was in the middle of a test.
‘Our science teacher immediately ran at him, swatted a gun out of his hand and tackled him to the ground,’ Stonebraker said. ‘If it weren’t for him, more of us would have been injured for sure.
As always, gentle readers, please keep in mind the facts I’m relating are based on media accounts, which are almost always inaccurate in one way or another. For example, early accounts said only that a teacher and a student had been injured, but neglected to identify the teacher–Jason Seaman–or the fact that it was Seaman that disarmed and subdued the student shooter. They also left out the fact that Seaman absorbed three bullets. He was the injured teacher.
Noblesville, about 20 miles northeast of Indianapolis, is home to about 50,000 people. The middle school has about 1,300 students from grades six through eight. The school’s academic year was scheduled to end next Friday.
In other words, the students are from roughly 11 to 13 years of age. Seaman has already had surgery and is out of the hospital. Fox adds detail:
Jason Seaman and other school officials thanked the Noblesville, Indiana community and gave an update on Ella Whistler, the 13-year-old student who was critically wounded in the attack.
‘I want to make it clear that my actions on that day, in my mind, were the only acceptable actions I could have done given the circumstances,’ Seaman [he’s 29] told reporters. ‘I deeply care for my students and their well-being. So that’s why I did what I did that day.’ [skip]
Seaman declined to answer questions from reporters, but praised Whistler and urged everyone to think of her as she recovers.
‘I can’t say enough how proud of Ella I am, and how we all should be,’ he said. ‘Her courage and strength at such a young age is nothing short of remarkable, and we should all continue to keep her in our minds as she continues to recover.
Ella Whistler remains in critical condition, but is “stable.”
I [Superintendent Beth Niedermeyer] could not be prouder of Jason [Seaman], [Principal] Stacey [Swan], and the entire Noblesville West staff. Students, bus drivers, nurses…the list goes on. All acted swiftly. They stayed calm. They showed courage and followed all of our safety protocols,’ Niedermeyer said.
I’m sure they did, but more on that shortly.
We’re so grateful for Jason’s quick and brave actions on Friday. He’s a strong teacher. He’s a coach. He’s a father. He’s a husband, and he’s a son,’ Niedermeyer said. ‘He put his own life in danger for his students. That alone tells you about his character and his big heart.
That’s a heart he was very fortunate not to have shredded by a bullet fired by an 11-13 year-old. The best currently available information suggests the shooter, who has not in any way been identified, was taking a test in Seaman’s seventh grade science class, and was able to leave the room, probably by asking to use the bathroom. If he’s a seventh grader, he would most likely be 12 years old–not yet a teenager. He returned with two handguns and began shooting. At least one media account suggests Seaman threw a basketball at the shooter, but it’s hard to imagine how he might have had a basketball immediately at hand, and that account does not indicate if that tactic was in any way effective, or how it could have been. Seaman apparently immediately charged the shooter, was hit three times, “swatted” a gun out of the shooter’s hand, and “tackled him to the ground.” Nothing else of substance is currently known.
We know nothing about the shooter, his motivation, whether Ella Whistler was his target, or just the first person he shot at random. We don’t know what kinds of weapons he used, though it appears they were handguns. We have no idea of his motivations or background. Even so, it is, of course, never too early to advocate for gun control.
Indiana’s Senate Democrats issued a statement in response to Friday’s school shooting expressing their condolences to the victims and calling for steps to prevent such shootings, including restrictions on guns.
More rational were President Trump and Vice President Pence:
While we still know relatively little, we know enough to learn important lessons that can save lives. I’ve been writing about these issues for years, but they bear repetition.
The “safety protocols” about which Neidermeyer spoke are surely of the “run, hide, and wait to be killed” kind that pass for a “school shooter response plan” these days. She’s probably referring to calling the police and medics as well. I’m equally sure an integral part of those safety protocols were gun free zone signs, and the occasional statement about how the safety of students is of paramount concern.
All of those entirely ineffective “protocols” could easily have resulted in a great many wounded and dead students and teachers. The pre-teen, or barely teen, children in that class are fortunate indeed that Jason Seaman was there, and that he reacted–apparently immediately. Had the shooter attacked in virtually any other classroom that day, the body count could have been horrendously high.
One should not, for a moment, minimize the injuries Seaman and Whistler have suffered. Hollywood regularly shows us heroes shot in the leg or shoulder, recovering fully and completely in time for the next episode, and suffering no lasting effects. In reality, gunshot wounds can be crippling, disfiguring, can shorten one’s life, and can cause life-long medical problems. We have no idea of the nature of Ella Whistler’s injuries, but what is known suggests she will not be easily shrugging them off. She has youth on her side, and the prayers of all decent men and women. Anti-liberty/gun cracktivists ridicule the power of prayer, finding gun control measures that would accomplish nothing but harassing the law-abiding to be far more moral and politically expedient, but they fail to understand real morality and power.
It was the “safety protocols” of that Indiana school district, and of most other American school districts, that forced Jason Seaman, empty handed, to attack a killer armed with a gun. Unquestionably, Seaman appears to be a large, strong, athletic young man, and he understood, if only subconsciously, the reality of attacking an armed killer while unarmed: one must be ready to absorb bullets, and one must not stop, no matter how badly wounded, until the killer has been disarmed and incapacitated. Launching such an attack, there is no hesitation, no stopping, no retreat.
I’m sure you see the inherent problems in this course of action: one or more of those bullets might instantly incapacitate the heroic defender, leaving the defenseless kids in the classroom in even worse shape. Of course, in most classrooms, the teacher, who might be a middle-aged woman, would be unable to respond with the speed, aggression and determination displayed by Seaman. The time/distance equation would work against her.
We don’t know how his injuries affected Seaman. We don’t know if he incapacitated the attacker, or merely held him down by physical force until he could be reinforced. Had I been there, unarmed, I would have done the same, but I would have controlled the gun and neutralized the shooter by striking him in vulnerable areas, probably killing him. I know this because I have the necessary training and experience. I know exactly how I respond in such situations. Most people don’t.
How much better would everything have been for the students of that school, for that community, if their school board and school administrators had the wisdom and foresight to allow as many willing teachers and other staff as possible to protect themselves and their charges with concealed handguns? Publicizing that fact, letting potential attackers know they would meet effective return fire, is the only “safety protocol” that can serve as an effective deterrent. That alone might have kept a pre-teen from daring to shoot anyone.
In fact, it’s likely Seaman saw the shooter returning to the room with a gun or guns. To react quickly enough, he almost certainly was aware of the danger before the first shot was fired. If he were carrying a concealed handgun, not a gun locked in a safe in his room or in the school office, he could have shot and stopped the killer before he could fire a shot. Facing certain death, the shooter might have been forced to disarm without firing a shot. He might have prevented a 13 year-old girl from having to fight for her life, and avoided absorbing three bullets. He would be no less heroic for resolving the situation that way, and that resolution would also serve as a future deterrent. As things stand now, what is to prevent any future shooter from attacking a gun free school, and this time, shooting in the classroom of someone less potentially formidable than Seaman?
And what of that middle aged female teacher, or a slight, young kindergarten teacher? They’re not athletic, aggressive, or trained in martial arts, but they’re more than capable of learning how to shoot accurately and tactically. That’s one of the enormous advantages of handguns for women: they equalize. They make the smallest woman capable of deterring and stopping the largest man. That’s the ultimate women’s issue. That’s a real school safety issue.
What gun control law (law-abiding citizen control measure) demanded by anti-liberty/gun cracktivists would have prevented this attack? Background checks or raising the age with which one can purchase a gun? The shooter was likely a pre-teen. He couldn’t buy a handgun until 21, and didn’t use a rifle, which he couldn’t buy until 18. Constitutionally abusive mental health laws? We know nothing about him, but we’ll almost certainly discover there were no obvious red flags, or perhaps slight signals that are potentially evident only in hindsight. Assault weapon bans? Nothing that could be remotely termed an “assault weapon” was apparently used. This was obviously premeditated murder. Who, planning that, will care about any gun law? Who, planning that, will be deterred by “safety protocols,” including “gun free school zone” signs?
One of the ironies of this situation is the shooter almost certainly participated in “active shooter response” drills. He knew exactly what his teachers would do. Those drills prepared him, not to run and hide and wait to be shot, but to do the shooting as others ran and hid and waited to be shot.
Jason Seaman acted heroically, but there won’t be a Jason Seaman in every classroom. And even if there is, things won’t work out as well as they did for Seaman and his students. Take the case of Marine combat veteran and teacher, Michael Landsberry. Confronting a student shooter in 2013, the time/distance equation didn’t work for him. Like Seaman, he was disarmed and he was shot, but unlike Seaman, he, shot in the chest, was immediately killed.
On October 21,  Landsberry needed a concealed handgun, not a taser, not a gun locked in a safe in a principal’s office, not a police officer who, once called would be minutes away at best. As with a fire extinguisher, he needed that handgun immediately, badly, and nothing else would do. Because he did not have it, because he, a Marine combat veteran, was deprived of the means to do what he was manifestly capable of doing, he died and a second student was wounded.
That’s the ultimate lesson of the Noblesville West Middle School attack: time and distance will always determine the outcome. Seaman, by dumb luck, had time and distance partially on his side. He was close enough to the shooter to cover the distance between them, and big, strong and determined enough to end the threat. Five feet further away, a few seconds slower in noticing and reacting to the threat, and Seaman probably would have been bleeding out on the floor as gunshots echoed in his rapidly dimming hearing.
As with virtually all school attacks, the police had no role in deterring or stopping the shooter.
Anyone truly serious about student safety, anyone truly serious about saving the lives of school children and teachers, must give those teachers every time and distance advantage possible. Only allowing them to bridge that time and distance gap with effective firearms will save lives when an attack occurs. The rest is so much political virtue signaling.
By all means, honor Jason Seaman, but honor him, and every other teacher, by ensuring they are never again put, through ineffective, feel-good “safety protocols,” in the position of charging into the muzzle of a killer’s gun and absorbing bullets.