St. Helena Parish officials release new details about deadly school shooting; classes to resume Tuesday

Leaders in St. Helena Parish held a press conference on Thursday, Sept. 14, after this week’s deadly shooting at St. Helena College and Career Academy.
Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 12:27 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 14, 2023 at 10:16 PM CDT
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GREENSBURG, La. (WAFB) - Leaders in St. Helena Parish held a press conference on Thursday, Sept. 14, after this week’s deadly shooting at St. Helena College and Career Academy.

Superintendent Dr. Kelli Joseph was joined by other St. Helena Parish leaders to update the community on the school’s response to the tragic events that occurred on Tuesday, Sept. 12.

Officials said classes across the entire school district will not resume until Tuesday, Sept. 19.

“A senseless tragedy that we have seen on campuses around the nation, struck here at home,” said Joseph, fighting back tears.

16-year-old Vernon Gordon Jr. was shot and killed Tuesday, Sept. 12, and two others were also injured during the shooting.

A 14-year-old suspect was arrested and charged with the shooting.

“What should’ve been a routine dismissal Tuesday at our school, turned into a day that has shaken our close-knit community to its core,” said Joseph.

Investigators were pretty tight-lipped about any new information and refused to give any names of the kids involved because of their age.

Deputies are also refusing to say how the suspect brought a gun on campus, and where the gun may have come from.

However, leaders did address allegations of bullying as a possible motive behind the shooting. Deputies previously mentioned that might’ve caused the deadly incident.

“We don’t know at this time because this is still an ongoing investigation,” said St. Helena Sheriff Nathaniel “Nat” Williams.

A big piece of information leaders revealed was that the school does not have a school resource officer on campus.

Dr. Joseph says school officials had to rely on a panic button to notify police, and other teachers to respond in the immediate moments after the shooting.

The superintendent now plans to explore the possibility of adding an SRO at the school.

“We are absolutely working on that. It would be in our best interest if we did have one, but like I said, we’re going to work with our sheriff’s department to definitely work on that,” said Joseph.

Deputies said the alleged suspect will be charged with aggravated second-degree murder, aggravated battery, and bringing a gun on school property.

The sheriff said they also have a team monitoring social media for any potential retaliation.

“We are monitoring the Facebook page, we are monitoring social media, and seeing what key players if any are involved on this,” said Williams.

District Attorney Scott Perrilloux told WAFB that he has not decided whether he will charge the teenage suspect as an adult. He said his office could make a decision within the next two weeks.

Dr. Joseph said they will continue to offer mental and emotional support to school employees and students for as long as needed.

A balloon release in honor of Gordon, Jr. is set for Friday, Sept. 14, at 6 p.m. at the school’s football field.

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