Metal Detectors in Washoe County School District Schools

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Mass shootings defined by the Federal Bureau of Investigation is an incident involving multiple victims of firearms-related violence. Twenty incidents occurred in 2016, while 30 occurred in 2017. These incidents took place in 21 states. Resulting in 221 deaths, leaving 722 people wounded. Twenty of the mass shootings mentioned above met the “mass murder” definition. A mass murder is the act of murdering a number of people, typically simultaneously or over a relatively short period of time and in close geographic proximity. The FBI defines mass murder as murdering three or more persons during an event with no “cooling-off period” between the murders.

Two of these incidents occurred right here in our home state of Nevada in 2016 and 2017. Both in Las Vegas and neither in a place of education.

Although, unfortunately, on October 21, 2013 we faced a tragedy of our own at Sparks Middle School. While not considered a mass murder, a 12 year-old student in the 7th grade opened fire on his peers, wounding two students and killing a teacher (Michael Landsberry) and himself. Jose Reyes was easily able to bring a 9-mm semi-automatic pistol to school and terrorize students and staff. According to the Reno Gazette Journal on May 13, 2014, then- principal, Stacy Cooper realized what was going on, called Code Red on her radio and called 911. But when she called Code Red, the intercom system would not work. Cooper reported that this was common.

While Stacy Cooper was familiar with Jose Reyes because of his prior history of “angry outbursts” at the elementary school he attended, she was not aware of any bullying reports. The Reno Gazette also reports that the boy’s mother, Liliana Reyes, asked for help for the first time when he was in the fourth grade. The parent involvement facilitator at Anges Risley Elementary School helped with two parent-teacher meetings, that she thought ended positively.

In the Sparks Police Report, Jose Reyes struggled with verbal communication as early as Kindergarten. The teachers at the elementary school said young Reyes was showing emotional problems in second grade. Sometimes he would cry and the teachers would calm him down by taking him for walks around the school. Reyes was described as “always, smiling, always willing to help and very quiet”, by his 4th grade teacher, Kelly Lorenzetti. She also stated to police that Jose had been diagnosed to be on the autism spectrum.

The May 13, 2014 article states that a special ed teacher from Anges Risley Elementary, Christy Bartlett, said that Jose Reyes often thought the kids were teasing him when they were reacting to something different. She mentioned that the other kids at the school “cared for Jose and did not let people pick on him because of his speech or academics.” But when he would get angered, he had a difficult time calming down. The special ed teacher said she made a recommendation to the program manager for Reyes to be placed in a life skills class, but the recommendation was denied.

When he became closer to going into middle school, a note from a school councilor indicated that she was “worried about his ability to handle middle school.” She mentioned, “He is very low academically and cognitively and also gets frustrated and upset when he is confused or does not understand something.”

Just three days prior to the shooting, a local psychotherapist prescribed Jose a generic form of Prozac. And just a few weeks before the students of Sparks Middle School had watched anti-bullying videos. Both that went into detail about school violence and shootings as a reaction to bullying.

Inside Reyes’ backpack on the day of the shooting, two notes were found. One to his parents, and one to his teachers and classmates.

The letter to his parents begins:

“Dear mom and dad I’m sorry about all this is because some of my family and friends hate me but I understand. What I did this shooting is not because of the shooting games, bullying or other stuff is because of the past causes there some bad things in the past cause of me. And now I’m just a monster…” And the end of his letter reads, “But I love you and I wish the past would be good and better someday.”

But in his letter to the school:

“Dear teachers and students today is the day when I kill you bastards for the embarrassment that you did. You say mean things in school. That I’m gay. That I’m lazy. Stupid. Idiot and also say I pee my pants and also stealing my money. Well that all ends. Today I will get revenge on the students and teachers for ruinning my life… And right now this school will now come to an end your death will be rising when I shoot you. Have a great death at school.”

In the Sparks Police Department Incident Report, three students informed of a time in the locker room. Reyes was drinking from a water bottle and a student decided to knock it out of his hand, causing it to look like he had urinated himself. A group of students then teased him and laughed at him. The police had a hard time pinning specific students to specific bullying events that were witnessed and told by other students.

The Reno Gazette Journal said the report stated, “No evidence was identified Reyes was bullied by the definition of state law, however, it is clear on numerous occasions he was treated poorly, teased, called names and mocked by other students.”

There are so many things that went wrong. America has a problem and it needs to be fixed, right now. How many more shootings do we need till we take action? No more! The answer is now. Right now! We must make a real plan. We need to address mental health in a better way to all families in the WCSD family. We also need to protect our children from weapons making their way into their home away from home. Their schools.

My plan of action is simple. I am sure you have seen and heard this before. Metal Detectors will stop any student from getting weapons into our schools. Each school needs to have 1-2 entry points with three or more metal detectors at all entries. I reached out to a couple of companies and they are ready and willing to work with us. Rulon Jessop with Protective Technologies International quoted $20,688.72 for 6 of their best machine with the best precision. (Garrett PD 6500i Walk-through Metal Detector). This company offers discounts to schools and large quantities. A 3 year warranty is available for an additional $178.00 per unit. I also got in touch with Dustin Allred with Zorpro. He quoted $13,470.00 for 6. (Zorpro 24 Zone) He bragged that this machine is sensitive and will detect small knives and comes with a 2 year warranty. As you can see, this is affordable. I am aware that there will be other financial factors. We will need to employ people to man these stations. My suggestion would be retired veterans. It would be ideal if they were concealing firearms incase of emergency.

I have a few plans of fundraising as a district and as schools individually. Silent Auctions, Police and fireman basketball games, rummage sales and more. A tax hike would most likely be needed. But we can’t afford not to do this. I would love to set up a meeting to get this project going.

Our community is committed and ready to take action in protecting the lives of our future.

Thank you for your time,


Sarah Tonn