Teacher Tackles, Subdues Student Gunman at Ill. High School

The teacher, who is a veteran physical education and math teacher, had recently participated in active shooter training through the school.

Teacher Tackles, Subdues Student Gunman at Ill. High School

The alleged shooter opened fire in the cafeteria at Mattoon High School during lunch.

A teacher who had recently received active shooter training took down a student gunman at an Illinois high school on Wednesday.

Angela McQueen, a 40-year-old physical education and math teacher at Mattoon High School, tackled the student shooter after he fired off several rounds at other students during lunch, injuring one. The injured student was shot in the hand and chest but is in good condition, says his mother.

“Lives were saved by the quick response of that teacher,” says Mattoon Police Chief Jeff Branson. “If that teacher had not responded as quickly as they had, I think the situation would have been a lot different.”

Branson says the school had recently participated in active shooter training, but says confrontation is considered “a strategy of last resort”. If required, the shooter’s arm should be the target, affecting the ability to aim, reports CBS News.

The injured student’s mother says McQueen lunged for the shooter’s arm, forcing it upward and ultimately subduing him until a school resource officer disarmed the student.

“He still had his finger on the trigger, and it was flying up and hitting the ceiling,” says student Alexis Perry, who witnessed the shooting and McQueen’s heroic actions.

Perry says even after subduing the shooter, McQueen continued to check on the well-being of other students.

“She was walking around and making sure everything was OK. And I went up and gave her a hug and thanked her because she could have — that could have been a lot worse and she made it to where it wasn’t,” says Branson.

Over 100 police officers responded to the shooting after students and faculty fleeing the scene reported a shooter in the school’s cafeteria.

Mental Health Evaluation Ordered for Suspected Shooter

The suspected shooter, who is a minor, is in custody and has been charged with aggravated battery with a firearm.

If convicted, the 16-year-old would be detained to the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice until he is 21.

Investigators are in the process of interviewing almost 200 people to try and determine the gunman’s motive and how he obtained the weapon.

During the suspect’s first court appearance on Thursday, Circuit Judge Mitchell Shick granted a request from the boy’s lawyer, Coles County Public Defender Anthony Ortega, for a mental health evaluation of his client, according to the Herald Review. Shick appointed psychiatrist Lawrence Jeckel to examine him.

The teen’s next court appearance is scheduled for October 5.

The high school reopened Thursday where an estimated 250 people attended an assembly and expressed their gratitude for McQueen.

“Everyone stood up and we all clapped our hands and cheered for Ms. McQueen,” says student Haiden Wickline who was in the cafeteria at the time of the shooting.


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About the Author


Amy is Campus Safety’s Executive Editor. Prior to joining the editorial team in 2017, she worked in both events and digital marketing.

Amy has many close relatives and friends who are teachers, motivating her to learn and share as much as she can about campus security. She has a minor in education and has worked with children in several capacities, further deepening her passion for keeping students safe.

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