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Court records: West Geauga High School student planned mass shooting at library

Chose location where 'the greatest number of students' would be
Brandon M. Morrissette
Screen Shot 2023-04-05 at 2.29.32 PM.JPEG
Posted at 4:53 PM, Apr 12, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-12 18:06:23-04

Court documents released Wednesday show how the 18-year-old West Geauga High School student arrested last week planned to kill his fellow classmates.

The student, Brandon M. Morrissette, "admitted he was going to go to the school library and open fire on students there," court records state. "He chose that location because that was where the greatest number of students would be at the time."

Prosecuting attorney James R. Flaiz wrote in a motion seeking to hold Morrissette behind bars without bail that if it weren't for school officials and police, the student would have "carried out his crime to its conclusion."

Flaiz asked the court in the motion to deny bail, stating Morrissette poses a threat to others "as he has demonstrated the ability to gain access to firearms and ammunition and has the desire to commit murder."

The prosecutor explained in the motion that no bond conditions could guarantee the public's safety.

"His actions already demonstrate a willingness to violate the law, and no-contact orders, GPS monitors or house arrest could be easily violated by him," Flaiz wrote. Authorities would only learn later if he left his home, providing him with the chance to commit a mass shooting somewhere else, he said.

Morrissette appeared in court Wednesday afternoon for an arraignment. He's been charged with attempted aggravated murder, a first-degree felony; illegal possession of a deadly weapon in a school, a fifth-degree felony and inducing panic, a first-degree misdemeanor, according to court records.

Judge Terri L. Stupica ordered that Morrissette be held without bond. She set a preliminary hearing for May 3 at 11:30 a.m.

You can watch Morrissette's arraignment hearing in the player below:

Brandon M. Morrissette arraignment

Mass shooting thwarted
Morrissette was arrested on April 3 after another student notified the school's resource officer that he found a bullet in the boys' restroom. The resource officer and school officials combed through video surveillance showing nearly two dozen people had entered the bathroom before the bullet was found. Each student seen on camera was removed from their classroom and interviewed.

At around 9 a.m., Morrissette was interviewed, and a 9mm handgun with three loaded magazines was found in his backpack. He was also armed with a knife. Police arrested him immediately.

RELATED: Student who found bullet at West Geauga High School — 'I need to do something now before something bad happens'

Superintendent informs parents of security plans
West Geauga Superintendent Richard Markwardt said in a statement sent to parents Tuesday that the district has been in talks with the Chester Township Police Department to increase the presence of school safety officers in the buildings. These talks have taken place over the last few months— prior to Morrissette being arrested.

"That will include a more visible police presence, enhanced school safety plans, and safety-related training for staff and students," Markwardt wrote.

The district has already spent $1.3 million on security enhancements over the last few years. Those enhancements include new cameras, radios, alarms and new doors.

School officials identified Morrissette as the suspect by watching footage of him exiting the bathroom before the bullet was found.

The district is also working to fix a public address system outage and phone system issues in the middle and high schools.

Currently, the district has added access to counselors, psychologists and a social worker for students and faculty to speak with.

You can read the superintendent's full letter below:

Dear West Geauga Parents/Guardians:

On April 5, 2023, the West Geauga Local School District, the Chester Township Police Department, and the Geauga County Prosecutor's Office issued a press release that provided information related to the discovery of a gun and ammunition in West Geauga High School on April 3, 2023. That press conference is posted on the district homepage.

Near the end of my statement I said "I am deeply grateful for the fact that no students and staff were injured or killed in this recent incident. However, as we reflect on the events of this week with our staff and local law enforcement agencies, our focus will not be one of celebration, but rather one that emphasizes critical reflection in an effort to further enhance and improve our safety provisions." I take that commitment seriously.

Over the last several months, the West Geauga School District has been in conversations with the Chester Police Department to explore ways in which we can expand the School Resource Officer presence in our school buildings. That will include a more visible police presence, enhanced school safety plans, and safety-related training for staff and students.

Currently, we are working with several IT consultants to identify the cause of the public address system outage and phone system issues at the middle school and high school on the morning of April 3 and prevent their recurrence. Tonight, the West G Board of Education plans to expedite the process of purchasing whatever repairs and/or equipment are necessary to correct any issues identified in this review.

What happened last Monday was a very frightening event. Equally as frightening as the hour between the discovery of the bullet during first period and the arrest of the student during second period, is contemplating what could have happened if the gunman had been able to execute his plans. As a parent and grandparent, these thoughts are terrifying.

To help address and alleviate such fears, the District has multiple supports in place for students and staff. These include, in addition to our five regular school counselors, three full-time school psychologists, a social worker and a strong community partnership with Ravenwood Health. The latter provides therapeutic support personnel for all of our school buildings. The point of contact to access these supports is any one of our school counselors.

The District has spent over $1.3 million on security enhancements in the last five years. Some, like the relocation and/or reinforcement of visitor entry points, are obvious. Others, such as new and additional cameras, radios, alarms, new doors, etc. are less apparent. All help to keep our buildings' inhabitants safe, but the events of last week indicate that our work is never done. This work is and will continue to be our priority.


Rich Markwardt
Richard A. Markwardt, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools

RELATED: Alert student helped West Geauga High officials thwart possible school shooting

You can watch more about Morrissette's arrest in the player below:

How a possible school shooting was averted at West Geauga High School

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