Emergency plan averts potential school tragedy - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Emergency plan averts potential school tragedy

August 8, 2002
By Mitch Kimbrell

Police say 19-year-old Scott Allen Gaines robbed the Pecan House on interstate 75, then drove away on the interstate until he needed gas. Police tried to arrest Gaines at the gas station, but when he resisted, Gaines was shot and headed farther down the interstate to Dooly County and the middle school.

A school near a major highway is prone to many unusual situations.

"Being as close as we are to the interstate," says Dooly County Superintendent Beauford Hicks, "we never know what may come off the interstate onto our grounds, so we're pretty well alert."

Still, school officials, who could not talk on camera, couldn't have expected what happened Wednesday afternoon when an armed robber, Scott Allen Gaines, lead a police chase onto the grounds of this school.

"You are securing the facility and you are in turn also securing the safety of every individual in that facility. Basically, you won't have any students out and no one will be able to get in, no one will be able to get out," says Hicks.

Dooly County has had an emergency plan for several years.

"We know that times are changing. Because the times are changing, we're still alert to the various kinds of possibilities."

Hicks said that staff and students remained calm throughout. And why not? The police had the suspect arrested soon after they arrived.

"Within just a short period of time, the incident was over. At no time were any students in any danger."

And so, an often practiced, but rarely used plan keeps a school safe and a superintendent proud of his staff.

Gaines is in fair condition tonight at Crisp Regional Hospital.

The name of the officer who shot Gaines is being withheld.

He is on administrative lead pending an investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

  • So who is Scott Gaines?

Some of the suspect's former teachers say Gaines was a reserved student who wasn't defiant or violent. Gaines's father says he was shocked by his son's arrest.

But Gaines has a colored past. After the shooting at Columbine High School, Gaines and some friends started wearing trenchcoats to school, similar to Columbine's so-called "Trenchcoat Mafia."

Crisp County sheriff Donnie Harrelson went to the school to talk to the students. Authorities say Gaines had run-ins with the law as a juvenile and some serious discipline problems at school.

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