Support for shooting suspect's family, as West Liberty students return to class


Students gathered to pray Tuesday morning in front of West Liberty-Salem High School.

Among those returning: Amy Flannery's 15-year-old son.

"They needed to go back," she said. "Getting them back there and letting them know that this is not a place you have to be fearful of."

Those are her feelings now, but she calls Friday the most fearful moment of her life: the day one of her son's classmates opened fire, shooting another student, 16-year-old Logan Cole.

Flannery describes what happened, as told by her son: "We were told that there was an active shooter and we thought it was a drill, so we got down like we were supposed to. Eventually they said this was not a drill and then someone came in and told them to run. And the room that he was in, there was a door right by the room. so they went out through that door and just ran- left everything behind and just ran. That's the hardest part for me is just imagining- imagining what it's like as a 15 year-old child to be running for your life, thinking you're going to be shot."

Superintendent Kraig Hissong says he's felt a range of emotions since Friday.

"Why did it happen? Why didn't we see it coming? There's always those kinds of questions. We also- I've had emotions of anger. Why did this happen to our students and our community?"

Monday night the district held an open house for students and their families to ease the transition back to class.

Tuesday morning they were greeted by a video message from Logan Cole from his hospital room.

"Basically wishing all his student body to do well today, and very happy that they got to return to school today, and he was looking forward to joining them in the near future," said Hissong.

Surrounded by signs of community support, school leaders say they want to extend that to the suspect's family.

"We need to embrace that family and watch over them and keep them," said Hissong.

"We don't want them to feel isolated," said Flannery. "We want them to know that we understand, and we're there for them as well."

Hissong says for this school family, coming back together was an important first step to healing.

"At this point I'm already starting to feel, as our sign says, that we're strong. And we're definitely going to get through it."

Logan Cole is being treated at Nationwide Children's Hospital. The latest update on his condition from his father:

The 17-year-old suspect faces charges including attempted murder. Prosecutors said they hope to charge him as an adult.