OLATHE, Ks. – Despite a local newspaper editorial oddly questioning whether he acted properly, an Olathe school resource officer is being hailed as a hero for taking down an armed student accused of wounding the officer and an assistant principal Friday.
Olathe East High School Assistant Principal Dr. Kaleb Stoppel and SRO Erik Clark were allegedly shot by student Jaylon Elmore, 18. Stoppel and Clark have since been released from the hospital. Elmore is still in critical condition at Overland Park Regional Medical Center, a spokesperson told The Heartlander.
There was no shortage of praise online for Clark, as many consider the officer a hero for his actions.
“Olathe Officer Clark is a hero for what he did today to stop what could have been a tragic ending,” the neighboring Miami County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post.
According to a statement from the Olathe Police Department: Stoppel received a tip that Elmore was carrying a gun in his backpack. The assistant principal called Elmore into the administrator’s office and requested he open his bag, but Elmore refused. Stoppel then called Clark into the office for assistance, which is when Elmore fired shots.
Even after being shot, Clark was able to return fire and hit Elmore in the abdomen, perhaps preventing further injury or death, according to radio traffic captured by Broadcastify.com.
After the exchange, Clark radioed for help and officers from Olathe, Lenexa and the Johnson County Sheriff’s office responded to the scene. Students were evacuated from the school and did not return until Monday.
Elmore has been charged with capital attempted murder, and bail has been set at $1 million. Former Kansas Attorney General Paul Morrison has been appointed to serve as Elmore’s defense lawyer. Elmore’s first court appearance was attended for him by his lawyers on Monday, and his next preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 17.
Since the shooting, an interim student resource officer and assistant principal have been placed at the school, along with additional police and counselors.
“A tragedy was avoided today thanks to this guy,” the Kansas State Troopers Association said in a Facebook post.
“The entire Sheriff’s Office is keeping SRO Clark, his family and his @OlathePolice family in our prayers tonight,” the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office tweeted.
Clark is known as a massive fan of Golden Grahams cereal, which inspired a mother of an Olathe East student to start a GoFundMe to award Clark with an entire year’s worth of his favorite cereal. The campaign looks to raise $510 and can be found here.
Clark has been a police officer for 15 years and has served as the student resource officer at Olathe East for seven years. An investigation of the shooting by various Kansas law enforcement agencies is still in progress.