Clay superintendent says it’ll take “a long time” for feeling of security to return

By Shauna Johnson in News
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Daily school operations in Clay County are starting to get back to normal, but they’re far from the same, according to the superintendent, following revelations of an alleged plot to make Clay County Middle School a mass shooting target.

Investigators have said it was envisioned as a massacre similar to the one on Apr. 20, 1999 at Columbine High School in Colorado when 12 students and one teacher were killed and 23 others wounded by two gunmen who shot and killed themselves.

“In Clay County, safety and the feeling of security is one of the highlights of our school system and that’s been taken away,” said Kenneth Tanner, Clay County superintendent of schools. “It will take a long time for that to completely come back, obviously.”

Tanner was a guest on Tuesday’s MetroNews “Talkline” with State Police Corporal Paul Green a day after juvenile petitions were served on two teen boys, ages 13 and 15.

One of the juveniles was arrested at his home, while the second turned himself in to troopers.

Additional arrests are possible, Green confirmed. “I really can’t specify exactly (how many), but there is possible forthcoming charges,” he said, noting that other potential suspects have been removed from the Clay County school system.

The two boys already under arrest stand accused of conspiracy to commit murder, making terroristic threats and solicitation to commit murder.

Because of their ages, they’re not being identified publicly. They are from the Clay and Kanawha County areas, according to Green.

Tanner said school officials became aware of some kind potential threat, though the exact nature of it was not known, late in the day on April 26. By the next day, State Police had been contacted.

Citing the investigation that is moving forward, Green could talk about few details of the case up to this point. He would say he believed the threat to Clay County Middle School had been eliminated with the arrests.

Fear throughout Clay County lead to school cancellations for three days during the first week of May.

Tanner said the alleged Clay County Middle plot, which was not carried out as planned on Apr. 20, is a reminder about the importance of safety and vigilance, no matter the location.

“Clay County does not have a traffic light. Clay County is pretty small and pretty rural and so, being that rural for this to take place, if it can happen here or be planned here, it can be planned anywhere,” Tanner said.

Anyone with additional information about the case can contact Cpl. Green at the Clay State Police Detachment, 304-286-3185.