VERMILLION COUNTY, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — A South Vermillion High School student was shot and injured after what’s being called an accidental discharge of a firearm by a law enforcement officer.
According to a post by the South Vermillion Community School Corporation, the incident occurred Thursday morning during a drill.
Superintendent of South Vermillion Schools, Dave Chapman, said the situation occurred in a vocational law enforcement class that’s taught by deputy sheriffs from the Vermillion County Sheriff’s Office.
“During the course of instruction today, they were going through some drills, and during the course of that drill, the deputy’s service revolver accidentally was discharged, hitting one of our students,” Chapman said.
“They were going through scenarios today about how to deal with a bad guy,” Indiana State Police Sgt. Matt Ames said. According to Ames, that was when the class instructor accidentally discharged his service revolver.
The male student who was struck is a senior at South Vermillion. Chapman said the student was taken to an area hospital with an injury described as non-life-threatening.
“When I got on the scene, he was on the stretcher with the EMTs, kind of cutting up a little bit. When he asked how his pain level was, he said it felt like a sting. So it was a graze, a superficial wound, and he was going to be transported to the hospital in Terre Haute to have it looked at,” Chapman said.
The Superintendent added that the student’s parents were notified and able to meet him at the emergency room.
Officials said the building remained on lockdown for some time due to an abundance of emergency personnel in the building.
Indiana State Police Sgt. Matt Ames explained that the officer involved has 19 years of experience in law enforcement. Ames confirmed the weapon involved was the deputy’s service weapon.
At the request of Vermillion County Sheriff Mike Phelps, Indiana State Police will conduct an investigation into what took place.
“We’re doing interviews with all the students who were present in the room,” Ames said. “We’ll be interviewing the deputy that was involved in the situation. Once that’s completed the crime scene investigators will go in, take all the information, and at the conclusion of the investigation it will be turned over to the Vermillion County Prosecutor’s Office for review.”
Indiana State Police identified the deputy involved as Deputy Tim DisPennett, a 19-year veteran of the Vermillion County Sheriff’s Department, who was instructing a law enforcement class at the school when he accidentally discharged his service weapon, striking a student in the classroom.
Deputy DisPennett has been placed on administrative leave, which police say is customary in these types of situations.
“This is the third or fourth year that we have had this class,” Chapman said. “It’s very popular not only with our students but also the North Vermillion and Parke County students as well.”
Chapman added that normally plastic dummy guns are used as part of the class, “In this situation, it was a mistake that was made, on behalf of the sheriff’s deputy.”
Chapman said normal school activities have resumed. Ames confirmed the room in which the incident occurred is taped off to preserve evidence.
Chapman was pleased with the response by school officials and local law enforcement.
“I think the emergency protocols that we have in place for our schools worked to perfection, everything went according to plan. Once we got the word out that this was an isolated issue and there was no danger, no threats of any kind, I think tensions were eased,” Chapman said.
Police say medical assistance was immediately rendered to the student and the student was taken to a hospital in Terre Haute with non-life threatening injuries.
When asked about the student who was injured, Chapman said he wouldn’t be surprised to see him back in school tomorrow.