By Margaret Stafford
(AP) – A school resource officer who shot and wounded a Kansas high school student after the student shot him four times won’t face charges because he believed his life was in danger, a prosecutor announced Friday.
Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe said school resource officer Erik Clark shot Jaylon Elmore at Olathe East High School after Elmore shot him four times inside an assistant principal’s office on March 4.
An assistant principal, Kaleb Stoppel, was shot and wounded during the exchange, “most likely” by two bullets fired by Clark, Howe said in a report.
Clark and Stoppel were released from the hospital the same day. Elmore was hospitalized for weeks before he was jailed on $1 million bond on an attempted capital murder charge. He pleaded not guilty.
“(Clark) believed that he was going to die when Jaylon Elmore drew a handgun and began firing at him,” Howe said in the release. “He watched the muzzle flashes and felt the bullets impact his body. This was a sudden burst of deadly violence without provocation.”
According to the report, Elmore was taken to the assistant principal’s office after rumors circulated that he might have brought a gun to school. After Elmore refused to allow Stoppel to search his backpack, Clark was summoned to the office, Howe said.
When Elmore stood up and moved his backpack to his chest, Stoppel approached him. He heard shots being fired but did not see a weapon in Elmore’s hand until he tackled him, according to the report.
Another assistant principal in the room saw Elmore take a pistol from the backpack and fire at Clark, Howe said. She was not injured.
Elmore shot Clark at point blank range before the officer was able to draw his weapon and return fire, according to the report. With Elmore subdued, Clark began treating his injuries and instructed others on how to treat Elmore’s wounds.
Elmore and Clark each fired four shots. Clark was hit four times, including one bullet that destroyed a body worn camera on his chest. Elmore and Stoppel were both shot twice.
Elmore used a Polymer 80 9mm gun, which is a “ghost gun” that can be made from a kit or individual parts often purchased online, the report said.