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Several students injured in BB gun incident at JCPS bus stop, but who is leading investigation?

"These kids are our future and we want them to be okay and we want them to not be afraid to be standing at their bus stop and coming to school."

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Several students were shot with pellets from a BB gun at a Jefferson County Public School (JCPS) bus stop Monday morning according to school officials.

The incident happened before school in west Louisville's Jacobs neighborhood.

"These kids are our future and we want them to be okay and we want them to not be afraid to be standing at their bus stop and coming to school," JCPS Chief of Communications Carolyn Callahan said.

Tuesday evening, a day and a half after the incident, it's not clear who is investigating and there are discrepancies in reports from JCPS and Louisville Metro Police (LMPD).

A spokesperson with JCPS said nine kids were injured and, of those injured, two were taken to the hospital. The JCPS spokesperson said no one was seriously injured and she didn't have information on if there were any suspects. 

An LMPD official said they initially got a call on the incident Monday morning. They said a Lassiter Middle School official reported four students were assaulted and hit with a BB gun, not nine. The official told LMPD the suspect that assaulted them was not at school and they were calling EMS.

Who is investigating? 

When WHAS11 first reached out to LMPD about the bus stop incident, an official said JCPS security was investigating. 

"You would want to speak with JCPS on the issue as their security is handling this incident," Angela Ingram with LMPD said in an email Tuesday morning. 

When we did, JCPS school officials told WHAS11 said LMPD took a report on the incident, but JCPS security was still actively investigating. 

"I believe LMPD may have sent an officer today, so you'd need to check with them again," Callahan said.

After hearing that, WHAS11 reached out to LMPD for a second time to confirm they took the report and get more information from them on it. 

An LMPD spokesperson said they actually did have officers speak to the Lassiter principal Tuesday morning, but those officers didn't get the names of the victims and without those, they can't file an official report. 

LMPD did, however, say they were in the process of determining whether it would be their case or JCPS security's case. 

Contact between LMPD and JCPS

LMPD Officer Beth Ruoff said they initially got a call about the incident Monday morning.

Ruoff said the Lassiter Middle School principal reported four students were assaulted and hit with a BB gun. The principal told LMPD the suspect who assaulted them was not at the school and they were calling EMS.

Ruoff said the official who took the call contacted JCPS security to get more information. When they did, JCPS security told LMPD they were going to contact the Lassiter principal to assess whether they'd take the report or refer it to LMPD. Later that same day, Ruoff said JCPS security told LMPD they'd handle the report. 

Tuesday, Ruoff said JCPS security called LMPD back and asked for them to take a report, meaning they wanted them to open an investigation into the incident. 

Ruoff said LMPD's Third Division responded to the school to get the information but found out when taking the report the actual incident happened in the Fourth Division. 

The Third Division officers took the information they got from JCPS to the Fourth Division but didn't have victim information or information from the victim's parents, so as of Tuesday evening, no official incident report had been filed in LMPD's system. 

Callahan, with JCPS, confirmed LMPD did speak to the Lassiter principal Tuesday morning. 

Gun-related injuries, not car crashes, now leading cause of death among kids ages 1-19

This latest incident wasn't the first violent situation involving a weapon at a JCPS bus stop this school year. In September, 16-year-old Tyree Smith was shot and killed while waiting for the school bus.

"That kid was doing everything we want of a child - everything we want a child, and he's just gunned down," LMPD Chief Erika Shields said in a sitdown interview with WHAS11's Rachel Droze in late March. 

Two juveniles have been arrested in connection with Tyree's death. One of the two, a 16-year-old, has been charged as an adult. 

New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds from 2019 to 2020, there was a 29% increase in the number of firearm-related deaths among kids ages 1-19.

"It's shocking to me, taken in a vacuum, that this is where we're at today, but based on what we see on a daily basis, it is not surprising in the least," UofL Health trauma surgeon Dr. Keith Miller said.  

Miller said locally, we're seeing another disturbing trend that mirrors what's happening nationally. 

He said we're seeing an increase in interpersonal shootings among adolescents. That's when a person shoots another person with the intention of harming them. 

"It's been fairly consistent over the last decade at least, that for everyone that is killed as a result of a firearm injury, there are four other people that are injured and have to live with the injuries associated with that for the rest of their lives," Miller said. 

Miller said accidental shootings account for roughly 10-15% of shootings they see and are more prevalent among kids under 10.

 Contact reporter Rachel Droze at rdroze@whas11.com or on FacebookTwitter or Instagram  

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