MATTOON -- A student opened fire in the Mattoon High School cafeteria and wounded a fellow student before being subdued by a teacher on Wednesday.
One student's mother said later in the day that she and her son both are still stunned.
School district Superintendent Larry Lilly and Mattoon Police Chief Jeff Branson shared information about the incident during a brief press conference at approximately 1:10 p.m. near the school. Lilly, whose voice was quavering with emotion, said a student fired multiple shots in the cafeteria at approximately 11:30 a.m. and wounded a fellow student.
"We are saddened that this event has happened and we will provide counseling to students in need," Lilly said. He noted that, after the incident, the high school students were taken by bus to Riddle Elementary School for pickup by their families. Lilly also thanked police officers, firefighters and ambulance crews for their quick response.
Branson said the suspect was subdued by a teacher in the cafeteria, the police department on-site school resource officer immediately responded, and other police officers were dispatched to the scene. He said more than 100 officers from local and state agencies were dispatched to the school and helped secure the scene.
“This is a horrific incident for us today. You hope it’s never going to happen to you," Branson said.
The police chief said a male suspect was taken into custody and investigators believe that he was the only suspect involved with the shooting. Branson did not release the name of the suspect, the victim or the teacher during the press conference. Another press release is scheduled for 7 tonight.
Skye Arthur, the mother of 16-year-old Mattoon High School student Braeton Davis, confirmed later in the day that her son was injured during the shooting. She said his knuckles were busted open, but he is physically fine otherwise. She said her son believed he may have been grazed in the shooting.
According to authorities, Braeton is not the student who was shot.
"I think he is traumatized by everything that happened. (Braeton) saw him shooting the gun, but he said he doesn't know who he is," Arthur said. "Overall (Braeton) is OK; he's probably like everybody else at school, in shock and scared."
Braeton and some of his friends ran out of the cafeteria and out of the school into a neighbor's yard. Then, he called his mother to tell her what happened, Arthur said.
"He got trampled while running out of the school and lost his shoes," Arthur said.
Arthur said she noticed dozens of student walking in front of her house, which is near the high school, and she asked a teacher what they were doing. She said the teacher said all students were reporting to nearby Riddle Elementary School to be accounted for and picked up by their families.
So, Arthur called Braeton back and told him and his friends they needed to go to the elementary school so they could be counted and people would know they were safe. Arthur said she is still in shock: "I've been a mess all day."
"I never would have thought anything like this would have happened here," Arthur added. "I thought he would be safe at school; they have security doors and everything."
Arthur said Braeton is scared and upset. She said her son wanted to lay down and relax, and was not ready to talk about what happened yet.
"I can't imagine how he is doing, I can't imagine how any of those kids are doing right now and you see it on TV and don't think it is going to happen to your own kid," Arthur said. "(Braeton) walked to school and walked home and never thought any of this would happen."
Police officers were on scene at the high school throughout the afternoon as investigators pursued their work at this site. Earlier in the day during the response to the shooting, a Coles County Sheriff's Office vehicle was involved in an accident on Marshall Avenue north of the high school.