Cobb schools: Chalker Elementary damaged by gunfire twice in one week

Apr. 28—A Cobb elementary school was damaged by gunfire on two occasions this week, Cobb County School District officials confirmed Friday.

Administrators at Chalker Elementary in Kennesaw, east of Interstate 575 on North Booth Road, found the school was damaged by bullets in the middle of the night twice in the past week, a district spokesperson said.

In an email to parents Friday, Principal Nicole Bristow said an initial investigation into the first shooting confirmed bullet damage to a door at the school. The email did not say the part of the school damaged in the second shooting.

The district spokesperson added no students or staff were on campus when the shootings occurred.

"The police are aware, have been investigating, will continue to investigate, and additional police officers (were) on campus throughout the day" Friday, the spokesperson added. "We are not aware of any specific threat to our school, students, or staff. Teaching and learning continues, uninterrupted."

Katy Reed Gardner, who has one son in 3rd grade and another in 4th grade at the school, told the MDJ she has been frustrated by the district's response to the two incidents.

"We were told initially through a very generic email that it was straight vandalism at the school, no detail of any gunshot, bullet, anything about that," Gardner said.

Allie Saurer, whose son is a 3rd grader at Chalker, echoed those concerns.

"I've spent this week with a couple of other friends of mine sending emails to the principal, the entire school board and district officials, and it was to the point where I was really starting to feel like all of my concerns have just been falling on deaf ears," Saurer said. "I really don't understand how, in this day and age, when these school shootings are a nationwide problem, how the level of importance is not being taken more seriously."

Both Gardner and Saurer kept their kids home from school Friday due to the shootings.

Cobb school board member Randy Scamihorn, whose post includes the area of Chalker Elementary, said he is confident in law enforcement getting to the bottom of the shootings. Scamihorn noted school board members are not briefed on the details of investigations.

However, he called the notion that not enough is being done to solve the case "just absolutely erroneous."

"Like any other investigation, everything possible is being done," Scamihorn said. "We're working to resolve this as quickly as possible."

Saurer said she understands the details of the investigation can't be shared, but would like more reassurance.

"We're asking you to help reassure us that we can trust that there are plans in place to keep our children safe," she said. "We want police presence starting at 6 in the morning so that teachers don't have to be scared walking into school in the morning and hiding their children in closets until they have time to check the hallways and make sure that something hasn't happened again."

After two bullets have been fired into the school, that shouldn't be too much to ask, she added.

Gardner said much of what she heard about the incidents was through mutual friends whose children attend Chalker.

She also questioned why the district did not close the school today after they learned early in the morning there had been another shooting.

"They should've called every parent and said, 'Come get your child, we're not in a safe position to keep them here until we know more,'" Gardner said.

School board member Leroy Tre' Hutchins said he did not know specific details about the incidents, but he understands why parents are concerned.

"If they thought it was an active threat, yes, I'm sure the district would respond with immediate action on what steps to take," Hutchins said. "As a parent myself, I'd do what I have to do, what I think is best for my children, that's just my take on anything: As a parent, you do what you have to do in the best interest of your child."

Saurer said she has not been able to sleep during the past week thinking about what happened at Chalker. On Friday, she said she fell to her knees and broke down crying when she heard it happened again.

However, she is not going to let up, and plans to keep the pressure on school officials to take further action.

"Hell hath no fury, and you're not coming after mine," Saurer said. "Somebody's trying, but I'm not going to let them."

The district encouraged students, staff and parents to visit http://www.cobbshield.com to see what it is doing to keep Chalker Elementary School safe and to report any safety concerns to the district's tip line at https://cobbk12-ga.safeschoolsalert.com/.