State organization honors Olathe East SRO for bravery in school shooting

OLATHE, Kan. (KCTV) – A local school resource officer is eyeing a host of honors for his response to an active shooter this spring.

School Resource Officer Erik Clark accepted an award for bravery Tuesday night from a group close to his heart.

On March 4, parents rushed to Olathe East High School in a panic to pick up their children. No one knows if the teenage student accused of firing the first shots would have continued past the office if school resource officer Erik Clark had not intervened.

Tuesday night’s award for bravery came from the Kansas Juvenile Officers Association, which includes SROs and DARE officers. It is not an annual award as some organizations have done.

“This is actually the first time we’ve given this award,” said Officer Anthony Garcia, a Blue Valley School District SRO who serves as the organization‘s vice president. “But these acts of bravery by Officer Clark simply could not go unnoticed. So we felt we had to put something in place for him.

Clark had previously been honored at the United States Capitol and received the National Award of Valor from the National Association of School Resource Officers. Yet Olathe Police Department Public Information Service Sgt. Joel Yeldell said Tuesday’s price could be even more significant.

“This one is particularly special because they are his peers. It is SRO colleagues in Kansas who recognize this work. So I think it really gets to him,” Yeldell said.

Yeldell spoke on Clark’s behalf because the shooting is part of an ongoing criminal case and he was asked not to speak about it publicly.

Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe charged the student, Jaylon Elmore, with attempted capital murder. He was 18 at the time. This case is still making its way through the courts.

In a document, in which Howe ruled that Clark’s use of force was justified, Howe wrote that Deputy Warden Dr. Kaleb Stoppel had received information that Elmore had a gun in his backpack. back. So he went to the teenager’s classroom and asked him to come to the office. Once at the office, Howe writes, Elmore was asked to empty his backpack. He refused, then pulled out the gun and fired, hitting Clark. Howe wrote that Stoppel then tackled Elmore and Clark fought back.

Clark, Stoppel and Elmore were all hit by gunfire and have all since been released from the hospital.

Clark returned to Olathe East this fall to continue what he has been doing for seven years at school. Yeldell said Clark was eager to return and the whole department was happy to see him back in uniform.

“It’s a tight-knit group there,” Yeldell said. “I think every time people go through something traumatic they bond even closer, so it’s a very special family in Olathe East.”

Stoppel and Clark were honored in Washington, D.C. earlier this year when a Kansas Congressional delegation from the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives presented resolutions recognizing them for their actions. The delegation included US Senators Jerry Moran and Roger Marshall, as well as Representatives Sharice Davids, Tracey Mann and Jake LaTurner.

Yeldell has called fall and winter “awards season” for many local, state and national police organizations. He said he wouldn’t be surprised if Clark got more awards.

Previous cover:

Injured school resource officer in Olathe East fought back at work

Teen charged in Olathe East High School shooting attends court hearing

Local school safety questioned after Texas shooting

Officer involved in Olathe East shooting receives national award

Olathe East HS shooting suspect Jaylon Elmore discharged from hospital and booked

Hearing for student charged in Olathe East shooting pushed back to April 28

New details released in Olathe East High School shooting that injured 3 people

Affidavit details murder of three people at Kansas school

Local psychologists discuss the trauma created by shootings like those in Olathe East

18-year-old charged with attempted capital murder in Olathe East shooting

Olathe school resource officer credited with saving lives identified by agencies

Parents and children reunite after a chilling shooting at Olathe East High School

2 released from hospital after shooting at Olathe East High School

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