Officer was justified in shooting Olathe East High School suspected gunman, prosecutor finds

Published: Jul. 22, 2022 at 11:25 AM CDT
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OLATHE, Ks. (KCTV) - The officer who shot the suspected gunman in March’s shooting at Olathe East High School was justified in his actions and will not face charges, the Johnson County prosecutor ruled on Friday.

The school resource officer, who was shot four times by the gunman at close range, returned fire and shot the suspect two times in a quick and intense confrontation in the assistant principal’s office on March 4.

Police said a student notified school staff that a student, Jaylon Elmore, had been bringing a gun to school. Two assistant principals went to Elmore’s classroom and pulled him out, asking him to bring his backpack with him. While the three were sitting down in an assistant principal’s office, administrators asked to search Elmore’s backpack, according to investigators.

The student refused to allow his backpack to be searched. The SRO entered the office and stood by the door. An assistant principal again asked Elmore for his backpack, at which point Elmore stood, pulled out a gun and fired shots at those in the room, according to the Olathe Police Department and findings from Johnson County Prosecutor Steve Howe’s office.

The assistant principal tackled the student to the ground, while the SRO returned fire and shot at Elmore four times, hitting him with two of those shots, the prosecutor’s findings say.

After the quick exchange, the SRO holstered his weapon and tended to his own injuries, while instructing staff on how to treat Elmore’s injuries.

A total of three people were shot:

-The SRO, in his chest, leg and shoulder.

-The assistant principal, in his thigh and forearm.

-The student, allegedly Jaylon Elmore, in his abdomen and left thigh.

Everyone involved survived.

An investigation found that Elmore allegedly used a Polymer80 9mm handgun. The SRO used a department-issued Glock 9mm handgun.

The prosecutor found that the shooting was justified on the SRO’s part, in association with Kansas law. Howe’s conclusion reads:

‘The Olathe School Resource Officer believed that he was going to die when Jaylon Elmore drew a handgun and began firing at him. He watched the muzzle flashes and felt the bullets impact his body. This was a sudden burst of deadly violence without provocation. Objectively, the facts support this belief. The female assistant principal told investigators that Mr. Elmore drew and shot his gun before the SRO could respond. The SRO was shot four times resulting in three gunshot wounds. This was clearly a deadly force situation. Under all the appropriate legal statutes and cases as cited above, it was reasonable for the officer to use deadly force against Jaylon Elmore. In light of Mr. Elmore’s pending criminal case and my ethical obligations under Supreme Court Rule 3.6 and 3.8, I will not be conducting a press conference or making any further comments at this time.’

Elmore remained in the hospital for weeks, recovering from his gunshot wounds. He was later transferred to the Johnson County Detention Center, where he remains on $1 million bond. He is charged with attempted capital murder, and pleaded not guilty. His next court date is a scheduling conference set for Aug. 17 at 11 a.m. in Johnson County Division 17.