5 year anniversary of shooting at Marshall County High School highlights new security measures

BENTON, Ky. (KBSI) – It has been five years since January 23, 2018. That winter day is a day no student, staff or faculty member who were at Marshall County High School will ever forget.

When students were gathering in the common area of Marshall County High School, before the start of the school day.

Gabriel Parker, 15, opened fire with a handgun, injuring 14 people, and killing two students, Bailey Holt and Preston Cope.

Since then, the school has gone above and beyond in making security the number one priority for their students.

“First and foremost, we want to make sure the children feel safe when they come to school because if a child feels safe, statistics show that they learn better,” said Tracy Watwood, Head School Resource Officer with Marshall County Sheriff’s Department. “They’re more relaxed and that’s our number one goal is to keep them safe.”

Measures were taken shortly after the shooting to further security.

Five years later and metal detectors line the halls and doorways. Three school resource officers are placed within the high school building and more roam the halls of the campus.

More than 270 security cameras keep a watchful eye of the campus. The school is on constant lockdown during the day with no one able to get in or out without being allowed access.

“When they (visitors) check in, their driver’s license is scanned, photograph is taken, so we know who’s in the building, who’s not in the building, who’s checked in and who’s checked out,” said David Maddox, a Marshall County School resource officer.

Students also have a special room to hold their bags or backpacks, which are inspected before being placed in the room for holding during the day.

Officer Watwood wants everyone to know that it is the school’s resource officer’s main goal to keep the student safe.

“I will say this, and I’m a retired police chief, but this is the most serious job I’ve ever had,” Watwood said. “Because taking care of our kids is taking care of our future. And I want all the kids that go to school here to feel safe every day.”

Related story:

Marshall County Schools remembers 2 lives lost in 5th anniversay since school shooting

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