Buna, TX – School administrators apologized and blamed school resource officers (SRO) in the for running a dangerous school security test on Tuesday without warning them, but one of the officers involved said the entire debacle was the school district’s fault and administrators are lying.
The incident occurred at Buna Elementary on Oct. 27 when two Buna Independent School District (ISD) SROs conducted a security drill they said had been requested by the administration, KJAS reported.
But school officials failed to warn the teachers and staff and when one of the officers began jiggling door handles from the outside to make sure they were locked, everyone became terrified because they believe it was a real attack on the school.
Terrified teachers called 911 and Jasper County sheriff’s officers responded to the scene quickly, with weapons drawn, until they realized the suspects were Buna ISD police officers.
The Jasper County Sheriff’s Office told KJAS they hadn’t been told about the planned drill.
Several Jasper County sheriff’s deputies had raced toward Buna Elementary at speeds up to 140 mph because they thought the children’s lives were in danger, KLTV reported.
“They could have easily been shot and killed by one of our guys, and that’s after we risked our lives driving as fast as these patrol cars can go just to get there,” Jasper County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Scotty Duncan told KJAS. “If it’s a real situation, yeah we’ll risk killing ourselves wrapping a patrol car around a pine tree to protect a child, but doing this without notifying anyone that it was just a drill, that don’t work.”
Buna ISD Superintendent Donny Lee said Buna ISD School Resource Officers Mark McKinley and Mike Henderson created a dangerous situation with the unplanned, unsanctioned drill, KJAS reported.
“Our school resource officers decided it would be a good idea to just go ahead and do this thing live where nobody knew, so that, according to their story, ‘we would get the realest reaction’ out of the deal,’” Lee claimed.
He agreed with critics that the whole drill could have ended up in disaster and acted like he knew nothing about it.
“Well hell no, it wasn’t a good idea!” the superintendent said. “That was the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard! I mean, my goodness.”
“So, yeah, there’s been some crucial conversations already had this morning,” Lee explained. “When we have to lock down our school and, you know, parents are wanting to know what’s going on, Jasper County Sheriff’s Office shows up and wastes time and resources, it scares everybody for no reason, everything fell through.”
“It could have been a disaster. Much worse could have happened,” he told KLTV. “The teachers responded perfectly to the situation. But it should not have happened.”
Parents were outraged about what happened and claimed their children had been traumatized, KBMT reported.
Victoria Mason said she learned about the incident at her daughter’s school via social media.
“Had me in such a state of panic and flying up to the school within two minutes of putting my phone down and reading that article,” Mason said.
A number of outraged parents demanded the school district take action against Officers McKinley and Henderson, KMBT reported.
That was the point when SRO Henderson, a former Jasper County sheriff’s deputy, had had enough of being maligned in the press and posted a lengthy response to what he called “outright lies” being told by the Buna ISD administration on KJAS’s Facebook page.
The following is the statement by SRO Henderson in its entirety:
“I’ve been called a lot of things in my life. Some bad, some good, some true, some not. I take exception to the untruths, addressing some and ignoring others. It comes with the job. When it comes to my integrity and my reputation, I draw the line there.
Regarding the situation at Buna Elementary this morning, there are a number of outright lies being circulated. Since some who were involved won’t do the right thing, I’m more than happy to. The chips will fall where they may, but truth is truth and I while I can abide a great many things, having my reputation tarnished by those seeking to shield themselves from the fallout is something I can’t abide. Not one dang bit.
1. This was a PLANNED EVENT. I was notified by a school administrator LAST WEEK that it would be taking place some time THIS WEEK. I wasn’t aware of the date or time, only that I was asked by this administrator to “show up in plain clothes” and check the exterior doors of the Elementary and High Schools. If you have an understanding of school security and basic common sense you’ll also understand that in order to test the effectiveness of any system, you need natural reactions. In other words, don’t warn people ahead of time. So, this wasn’t spontaneous. We did NOT “Take it upon ourselves” to conduct the drill. This was a SCHOOL SANCTIONED AND REQUIRED EVENT and I was TOLD to do it by ADMINISTRATION. I have good reason to believe that I know why these lies were told and it’s unfortunate. However, regardless of their source or intent, they are still outright LIES. Given the nature of the “exercise” and the response it could potentially generate, once at the Elementary School I removed my duty weapon and magazines and left them in my patrol car. Which, I might add, was parked prominently in the FRONT of the Elementary AND High Schools. Additionally, I waited as long as possible for as many little kids to be inside so as not to scare them from any possible response from staff.
2. Mark McKinley did not participate, other than to monitor my actions on video. Contrary to what was reported on the apparent fake news website, KJAS, and what was also reported by a member of Jasper County Sheriff’s Department administration, there were NOT camouflaged “officers”. There was just ONE officer and that was me. I wasn’t even “camouflaged”, I had been wearing a camo jacket which was over my district-issued blue polo shirt which says, in large letters on the back, “POLICE” and has a small BUNA ISD POLICE logo on the left front breast. Once I made my way back to the front of the school it was removed. KJAS also contradicted itself in its biased and misleading article, as it states one time there were camouflaged officers then another time states that I was the only one dressed in camo. Let’s not let the facts stand in the way of a good story though.
3. I was NOT trying to “break in through doors and windows”. I was tasked with checking to see if the exterior doors were locked or not. Nothing was mentioned to me about windows, I did not touch any windows. I did not even attempt to “break in” period, merely check to see if the doors were locked.
4. To those saying I should have notified someone, that’s not how things work. I’m not running or in charge of anything and it’s my job, especially as low man on the totem pole, to do as I’m asked and not question if the proper plans or steps have been taken. My assumption was that since this was a SCHOOL SANCTIONED EVENT, those steps had been taken prior to me being involved in this. My fault lies in believing that had been done.
5. To those who have chosen to believe the lies being perpetuated by some on KJAS and other sites, I’m curious to know how you view CNN, MSNBC, and other mainstream media sources in their treatment of our President. I’d be willing to bet a very large percentage of you call them for what they are-fake news-yet here you all are, shoveling in more lies without even stopping to think that there is ALWAYS more to the story.
6. Some have called for Mark and I to be fired. I say if you can do this better, feel free. Come on out, lend your expertise. With all the law enforcement experts there should be no shortage of willing volunteers. Just don’t try your hand at investigations because based on what I’ve seen just from this one incident, most would do a piss poor job at gathering facts before pronouncing guilt.
7. To those who know me (and those who don’t) and have offered words of encouragement, it is more appreciated than you know. To those who don’t know me yet still feel somehow qualified to weigh in on something you didn’t witness nor have reliable information about, your opinion and 99 cents will get you a cup of coffee anywhere in town. God knows the truth and that’s all I’m concerned with.”
The Police Tribune left messages for the Buna ISD superintendent but had not yet received a response at publication time.