Parent charged in road rage shooting outside elementary school
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - A Montgomery man is facing charges after a shooting in the parking lot of a Montgomery elementary school Thursday morning.
Isaiah Johnson, 38, is charged with discharging a firearm into an occupied vehicle and certain person forbidden to possess a weapon. The weapon charge is in connection to having a firearm on school grounds.
Montgomery police say Johnson fired a gun at another parent after a “traffic dispute" in the parking lot of Blount Elementary School.
The other parent was taken into custody but was released when police determined he didn’t have a weapon during the incident.
The shooting happened just before 7:30 a.m. Thursday as students were arriving for school. Police confirmed the two men involved in the dispute were both dropping their children off at school.
Police say Johnson went into the school after the shooting, turned the gun over to school staff and waited for police to arrive. He then turned himself into officers.
Montgomery Public School spokesperson Tom Salter said the gun was secured in the school safe until police arrived.
The other parent also waited on the scene for police to arrive.
No one was injured in the shooting, but a vehicle was damaged.
The school was placed on a brief lock down. Parents were allowed to choose whether they wanted their child to attend school Thursday.
“It is in my opinion that the more normal the day for the child, the better,” Salter said. “If you feel that it is really necessary to come get your child, you are welcome to do so.”
Salter says the school system holds meetings about safety and what to do in situations like this. Both staff and students undergo training.
“You’re never 100 percent prepared for any situation or tragedy, but I think the system worked today,” Salter said.
Montgomery Public Schools Superintendent Ann Roy Moore spoke with Anchor Tonya Terry about the shooting Thursday.
“We tell children guns don’t solve problems, but we also have to get our adults to culturally understand, that’s not how you do it,” Moore said.
Moore said she found out about the shooting from a parent who works in the school district’s central office and has a child who goes to Blount.
“She called me and said there is a guy who is shooting and I see him and she gave me the details,” Moore said. “I asked her who she had called and she said she called our head of security and 911.”
Moore said she felt the situation was under control quickly and the safety plan was followed through.
“Every year you have a safety plan. At this time of the year your safety plan carries over,” Moore said. “You know what it is, we all know what we are supposed to do and how we are supposed to do it and we have people in place who understand the plan.”
Despite Thursday’s shooting, Moore says she feels students are safe and the school system’s plan is working.
“We feel safe right now with all of our elementary schools. If we can gauge it and know what is going to happen, we intercept if at all possible,” Moore said.
Clare Weil, president of the Montgomery County Board of Education, agrees.
“Its still a safe place," she said. "The school is a safe place to bring your children. Our people were prepared. They did what they were supposed to do and the children were safe. School is still a great place to be. Montgomery Public Schools are moving forward and we’re going to move forward from this one.”
Moore said about a third of the students decided to stay in school after the shooting. Thursday was the third day of the school year for Montgomery Public Schools.
While officials are saying that they are continuing to move forward, some parents still have their concerns. WSFA 12 News spoke with a parent who has a son that attends Blount Elementary, and she says that she’s glad that no one was injured but wishes that she had been notified sooner.
“The only way I knew anything was happening was because I was on Facebook," Nicole Rello said. "My concerns are actually with the school district. I don’t know if it’s directly Blount Elementary or if it’s with the school district as a whole, but I did not receive any kind of notification that there was an incident at the school until 9:37 when I had already picked up my son and he was home safely with me. I know they have automated messages because we get them about what to wear for spirit day or to bring sunscreen, so I 100 percent would have expected to hear from the school before I heard from a Facebook page.”
School board officials say that they wanted to make sure the situation was under control, and that everyone was safe before notifying parents. Officials say that Blount Elementary parent received notification around 9:30 this morning and all other MPS parents received notification just before 4 p.m.
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