How an Assistant Principal With a Gun Stopped a School Shooter

There are two ways that the gun control debate on Newtown has been going. The left insists that expanding gun free zones, banning firearms and leaving schoolchildren vulnerable to school shooters who do make it past their regulations is the way to go. The right argues that a faculty that has teachers and principals who have carry permits and can protect the children under their car is the way to go.

The test case for that may have taken place in 1997.

At 8 a.m. on Oct. 1, Luke Woodham, 16, bookish and overweight, drove a white Chevy Corsica up to his high school. That was already a sign of trouble: the young man had poor vision and was driven to school every day by his mother. But three hours earlier that morning, Mary Ann Woodham, 50, had been stabbed to death with a butcher knife in the home she shared with her son.

Luke Woodham walked into Pearl High’s commons, an enclosure created by the school’s buildings. He then took a .30-.30 rifle from beneath his blue trench coat and opened fire, wounding seven schoolmates and killing two, Lydia Kaye Dew, 17, and Christina Menefee, 16, a girl he once dated.

Roy Balentine, the principal, dashed out of his office when he heard the first shots.

“I ran out to see if something possibly malfunctioned,” he said. “I was hoping that’s what it was, but I knew it sounded like gunshots.”

He saw Woodham, about 15 or 20 feet away, wearing a big, blue coat and holding a rifle. Balentine dangled both arms to show how Woodham held the rifle low out in front of him.

Fearing Woodham would come for him next, Balentine ran to his office to call the police. As he dialed, more shots rang out. More students fell.

Methodically Woodham began moving through the commons, shooting his victims as students and teachers hid or fled screaming. One of those hit was Lydia Dew, 17, killed with a bullet in the back.

“He was so cool and calm. I saw him shoot a kid, and he ejected the shell,” says assistant principal Joel Myrick. “He was walking along, thumbing fresh rounds into the side port of the rifle.”

Minutes later, Assistant Principal Joel Myrick chased Woodham down outside the school, held him at bay with a Colt .45-caliber automatic pistol he kept in his truck in the school parking lot. He forced Woodham to the ground and put his foot on the youth’s neck.

“I think he’s a coward,” Myrick said. “I had my weapon pointed at his face, and he didn’t want to die.”

There are a number of similarities between the two school shootings. Both were carried out by dysfunctional loners who may have come under the influence of Satanic groups. One ended when an assistant principal with a gun stepped in.

Is there any conceivable reason why there shouldn’t be men and women like him on every school campus in case the worst happens?

There were people who believed that Myrick was wrong and that he should not have been armed on campus.

Everyday at Gulfport High, Mr. Myrick assists teens that have no idea that several years ago a nation argued about whether what he did that day was heroic or illegal.

Some hate mail in the Pearl File said he shouldn’t have had a weapon on school property and, even worse, should not have aimed the gun at a student.

Others, however, defended Mr. Myrick, quoting the law that his vehicle was an extension of his home, making possession of the gun justifiable.

“Some wanted me to become president,” he said.

  • tagalog

    Woodham is lucky that unlike him, Myrick is a human being with a conscience. All it would have taken would be for Myrick to be like Woodham and Woodham would have taken a .45 round between the eyes.

    Did Woodham get tried as an adult or as a juvenile offender? I hope he's not walking around free today.

    Too bad he didn't have a little more trouble with his eyes; those students he shot dead might still be alive.

    • Spikey1

      Luke Woodham was given two life sentences for the murders and seven 20-year sentences for his attempted murder convictions.
      He is currently serving three life terms plus an additional 140 years in prison.
      He will be eligible for parole in 2046, when he is 65 years old.

      Three life terms plus 140 years makes a person eligible for parole?
      WTF: We should just kill the scum.

      • DefendConstitution

        Ya, and he probably will go in front of some liberal judge in 5 years and have everything thrown out on some minor detail.

  • κατεργάζομαι

    To paraphrase Mark Levin; "I would rather live where the citizens are armed to the teeth, than a country where only the government is armed."

    This reminds me of the Hegelian dialectical argument to further restrict CAFE standards citing SUV's as a threat to society. – AP reports, "John & Sally were "killed by an SUV".

    NO! John & Sally were killed due to some person's actions.

    When President Obama infringes on the debate on gun control with specific gun control proposals, he should also be obligated to disclose his professional armed protection, 24/7, at taxpayers expense!

    • reggiec

      Why does Switzerland have such a low crime rate? Because every adult male and every house has a military assault weapon and they are trained in its use. End of arguement.

  • Thomas Wells

    Banning "assault rifles" would not effect a lever action side port loading 30-30 . Nor would it ban knives,bombs,Molotov cocktails,axes,or…Removing the psycho assaulters from the streets is a better and more effective way to protect and defend schools and other soft targets than disarming honest folks.

    • RedWhiteAndJew

      Banning "assault rifles" would not effect a lever action side port loading 30-30.

      Quite true, and if there is any "sporting" firearm more iconic than the lever action 30-30, I don't know what it is. You provide an excellent illustration why banning mythic "assault weapons" is absurd, but also why the even more mythical "gun-free zone" should be banned.

      If a terrorist/maniac/later-day Weatherman/etc walked into a "gun-free" zone with a 30-30 and a bag full of ammo, and a revolver, he would be able to pick off victims at their leisure, with little worry about being stopped, because he can reasonably expect no one will be able to resist by returning fire.

      Forcing the law-abiding to go unarmed is a force multiplier for the law-breaker, in other words.

  • JacksonPearson

    Arming teachers and/or school managers should be closely looked at. A doctor-patient relationship, and privacy are touchy areas and issues. However, those issues magically disappear when an alleged mental patient goes on a rampage, is apprehended, and an after-the-fact court requests a psychiatric evaluation of the detainee, or subpoena their medical records. Somehow, PC have to be tossed out the window, and a before-the-fact have to be made aware of, without becoming a police state.

  • BLJ

    Kudos to this brave man. I just read where Red China wants immediate gun control in the U.S. Gee, I wonder why those zipperheads feel this way?

    • Arlie

      Why the paranoia China?

      • Cynicles

        Look no further than why Japan never tried a mainland invaison of the US (WWII).

        hint: Every other home has one or more firearm

        • Justin

          They were busy conquering east Asia. But good try.

          • DavidUSAF

            This is what happens when you don't learn history. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Emperor of Japan told his admiral that he wanted to plan an invasion of the U.S.. The Admiral told him that invasion of the mainland would be impossible because there would be a gun behind every blade of grass. It was not the army they feared, it was the people.

            Those who do not learn from history, are bound to repeat it.

  • Arlie

    Six and seven year old children were killed by an unhinged psycho. 0 and all the unhinged left want to take away 2nd Amendment rights to protect life. Obama supports this

    In 2009, 3,325 abortions were performed every day! That's 1.21 million babies killed by legal psychos aided and abetted by American law. No right to protect the most innocent of life. No outrage. Obama supports this

    The picture I get of the left and 0 is a ugly blood thirsty elitist political machine where nothing is "fair" unless they say it's "fair". It's fair to kill babies by the millions, but don't protect yourself..that's not fair you might kill someone. They watched 4 people die in Benghazi without protection from known Ansar al Sharia all around the area.

    • leber

      Arlie….you might be correct,but I not sure the Left is as bloodthirsty as you suggest…. most of them that I have met, are uninformed and don't have their own thoughts and ideas. They surely can't like killing innocent unborn babies, but they have been convinced that it's OK, same as with destroying our Constitution, etc.,etc. Generaly speaking, it seems that if Baracko Bama tells them to "like" or "dislike".. they blindly get in line to do as they are told. [IMHO]

  • Chiggles

    That principal got a ton of hate mail after this. Go figure.

    • leber

      If this happened today, Bloomberg and Fiendstien would demand that he be charged with some crime and lose his job

  • JacksonPearson

    Obama has armed security personnel for self defense but YOU can’t have self defense The United States of America was founded on the idea that an armed citizenry is the only thing that can be trusted to keep government honest, but that idea has now been turned upside down.

    The new message today is that an armed government is the only thing that can be trusted, and that individual citizens are all potential terrorists and mass murderers.

    While Obama, Feinstein, Bloomberg and others are calling for citizens to give up their self defense tools, those very same people all have armed bodyguards to provide for their own self defense. Obama in particular has an entire group of men — the U.S. Secret Service — who are most definitely armed to the teeth and wielding full-auto weapons.

    Will Obama now call for his own Secret Service men to give up their guns and ammunition? Will Bloomberg give up his armed police escorts and security personnel? Will the White House be completely disarmed and have a “Gun Free Zone” sign placed outside the White House lawn?…I doubt it.

    • Moose

      There are eleven full time armed security guards employed by the school Obama's children attend plus the Secret Service men from the White House. It's alright for his children to be protected but not ours. What should be banned are Gun Free Zones!

  • Tan

    "Some hate mail in the Pearl File said he shouldn’t have had a weapon on school property and, even worse, should not have aimed the gun at a student."

    That's exactly what the UN told Israel when it was defending itself from its enemies in the past (the UN has condemned Israel more than all the countries in the world combined). I just don't understand people. Why condemn someone that saves lives? It's also very strange that they condemn the person that did the noble thing, but does not rebuke the one that committed evil. These kinds of people bug me.

    • big wyo

      I want the people that said that to stand in front of the parents and spout that crap while allowing this absolute spawn of Satan to still breathe.

      If the principle had a gun or no gun free zone were not there thing would have been much different.

      Mr. Myria you are a hero but you have to know you should have ended him when had the chance.

  • sflbib

    As usual, the Left's arguments are all about treating the symptoms and not the causes.

  • tagalog

    When I worked on a mental ward at a county hospital, we psychiatric workers used to compare and contrast mentally ill murderers with murderers who are not mentally ill. We concluded that, since the mentally ill who kill are, as a rule, unpredictable, impulsive, and murderous, when they murder people, they are among the murderers for whom the death penalty should be uniformly applied, treating their mental illness as an aggravator and not a mitigator. Therefore, we thought, it's best if the mentally ill murderer is executed, since they can't control themselves and keep from murdering the next time their mental stability is overturned.

  • joaklk

    Arming school officials with a gun doesn't guarantee anything. Columbine had an armed security guard.

    • big wyo

      fool fool fool tell it all.
      Columbine had a County Sheriffs Deputy stationed on duty at Columbine.
      Supercop was not in the school he was outside eating in his car and heard the shooting and did not immediately enter and never entered the school.
      He claims to have exchanged gunfire with at least one of the gunmen but did not enter the school.
      He did without a doubt distract the gunmen saving some lives and helped ferry wounded to safer points.
      He observed the gunman and exchanged fire with him from upper floors indicating he knew he could have entered the lower levels
      this whole time they observed many uninjured students and spoke with at least one fleeing teacher.
      It took swat teams more than 30 minutes to arrive and many more to storm the bullding to find the gunmen had killed themselves.
      it took months for all the different police agencies involved in this to get their official stories straight.

    • Moose

      I wonder how many more would have died if that security guard hadn't distracted the two crazies.

  • Ray Ficara

    Utah has had armed teachers now for TEN years. Didn't know that, did you? No problems. No crazies and no killings.

    Ray from Bloombergia
    NRA Life
    Soli Deo Gloria!!

  • Peter Ramsey

    It’s just common sense.
    Not only would qualified security guards make the school system safer, it would help the economy.
    Real jobs for real people. I don’t believe it would cost $5 billion either.
    If a government can’t support it’s own children, it deserves to be overthrown.
    I support the NRA.
    Start with the local school board and demand they take action.
    A good principal is usually a good judge of character.
    Let’s beat the liberals at their own game, start organizing today!

  • River Rat

    People who desire to commit such deeds need to be terminated on the spot. Anyone attempting to commit rape,robbery,looting or murder with a weapon should be shot with no questions ask. End of conversation.

  • Korean Vet Ray

    The other day Morgan asked one of his guests, who was advocating for more armed good guys, if he wanted more OK Corral incidents. It is my openion that the OK Corral incident is a prime example of the need for more armed good guys, as the armed good guys, in that incident, stopped the armed bad guys from shooting up the whole town of Tombstone. And later ran to ground those who escaped and put an end to their lives and their criminal actions.

  • jhsif

    Confound it! That’s not supposed to happen! Didn’t you see the video REQUIRED to be watched?! WHEN a gunman comes into the GUN FREE ZONE you put your hands up like everyone else, because if you don’t you’ll just make the situation worse! You’ll (gasp) end up like George Zimmerman and have to apologize if you should (gasp) shoot and kill said gunman in self defence, you’ll have to apologize for surviving for the rest of your life! HEY you wanted this mess when you elected democraps and their illegal immagrint from Kenya Messiah Rodeo Clown! ENJOY!!!

  • jjJustice

    how does this count as stopping a shooting. the shooter left the building, apparently done with his plans, when he was held at gunpoint until the police arrived. that’s not stopping a shooting, the assailant already succeeded in his plans, clearly.

    • You’re an idiot

      Actually, if you did some research before making a silly statement, you would know that Woodham intended on heading to Pearl Jr. High to do the same thing. So, in essence, another school shooting WAS stopped.