LEX 18 In-Depth: Gun incidents across Kentucky schools double in 5 years (2024)

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — As a parent, it's one of the last things you want to hear: reports of a weapon on campus. Yet in Lexington, parents with students at Fayette County Public Schools have heard those words at least five times in the past two years according to district records.

The incidents

9/22/22 11 a.m. at Frederick Douglass High School

After noticing a parking violation, FCPS police spotted marijuana in a car and conducted a search.

They found a Glock in the glove box, a magazine with seven bullets.

10/27/2022 8:15 a.m. at Henry Clay High School

A student witnessed another student showing off a gun in the restroom.

The school went on lockdown, and around 9:30 a.m., officers found a gun on a student with two loaded magazines, an empty magazine, and an ammunition box. It was a semi-automatic pistol.

11/04/2022 8:49 a.m. at Tates Creek Middle School

Officers heard shots fired, and later, a student reported to administrators that he was walking with a group of about six other students and was shot at by someone coming through the fence at the nearby apartments.

School leaders reported to police the suspect might be a known individual who often harassed middle schoolers.

The school was placed on heightened alert and then placed on lockdown.

Police obtained video from the apartments and found a suspect in possession of the outfit in the surveillance video.

11/15/2023 at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School

A security ambassador found a 9mm Glock in a student's backpack as they were trying to go through metal detectors.

It turned out to be a stolen weapon from Tennessee loaded with 30 bullets.

03/05/2024 at Lafayette High School

Police obtained a photo allegedly from inside a classroom of a student showing off a gun.

A bus driver warned police the student said he brings weapons to school every day.

The student confessed to police they entered the school from the gym and went through security. Once inside, they said they realized there was a Glock in their backpack, and a classmate snapped a photo.

Police arrested the student on March 8, and Lexington Police confiscated the weapon.


The reports tell a part of a larger story about an increase of students K-12 with weapons since the pandemic.

Zooming out of Fayette County, the collective number of behavior incidents involving a gun or other deadly weapon at schools has doubled in the past five years in Kentucky.

According to the Kentucky Department of Education’sSchool Safety Annual Statistical Report, during the 2022-23 school year, school and district administrators recorded 1,350 incidents, a 99.7 percent increase from five years ago.

Why is it happening?

"Really, to understand what is going on, again, we have to move beyond the child because this isn't just a problematic, just a bad child, just one person. We're having this story play out over and over and over," said Dr. Clarissa Roan-Belle.

From her more than 10 years of research and practice as a licensed psychologist, Roan-Belle describes it as a multi-faceted issue that reflects the health of society.

"We have to look at the numbers within the lives and the context with which our children live. Again, I cannot stress enough how much the pandemic has impacted us all,” said Roan-Belle.

She says factors like the economy, social justice, and mental health all impact the behavior of adolescents.

"If adults are having a hard time processing life, imagine how difficult it is for a child whose brain is still developing to process and to cope,” said Roan-Belle.

Schools across Kentucky have the task of trying to keep students safe while in their care despite influences out of their control when kids are not in their care.

Many districts have taken the approach of addressing physical security measures and mental protections.

All high schools within Fayette County Public Schools have metal detectors, school resource officers, and options for mental health support like counselors.

There’s also the “S.T.O.P Safe School” reporting tool, which is designed as an online reporting prevention tool. Students can submit safety tips anonymously.

“Having things like the S.T.O.P. tip line, having things on our website like the basic needs portal where families can request support and just that direct connection with your school administrators and school support staff and even teachers sometimes, is how you help to keep people safe,” explained Dedeeh Newbern, chief of student support services.

Newbern says while schools are challenged with controlling their environment, having the community’s help would make students safe.

That’s why she says FCPS prioritizes developing relationships as a safety measure.

"As a parent, my call to action to other parents is that we are highly involved in our students educational needs and that we always remember that the education of our child is not just academic, it’s their social needs it’s their emotional needs, it’s their mental health needs,” said Newbern.

Dr. Roan-Belle hopes the numbers will help and encourage parents to start a conversation with their children.

Statement from the autHors of the report, KDE:

"KRS 158.444 requiresKDEto publish the School Safety Annual Statistical Report and share the report with the General Assembly and the Center for School Safety. Districts provide this data toKDEthrough Infinite Campus. The Kentucky Department of Education does not directly support schools and districts in responding to student behavior incidents related to weapons. The KY Center for School Safety is charged by the General Assembly to disseminate information about successful school safety programs in collaboration with the Kentucky Department of Education and others."

We are waiting on an official response from the KY Center for School Safety and the State School Security Marshall for details on how they are addressing the increase in weapon-related incidents.

Copyright 2024 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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LEX 18 In-Depth: Gun incidents across Kentucky schools double in 5 years (2024)
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