Prue parents concerned about children's safety

Wednesday, December 5th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Some parents in the small town of Prue are worried - because their children are going to school with a boy who's a suspect in a recent shooting death.

The shooting killed a nine year-old boy - who also attended classes in Prue. Many residents are asking why or how the shooting happened in the first place. Now some want to know why the suspect is still in school - including the father of the nine year-old victim.

News on Six reporter Diane White spent time in Prue talking with parents and school leaders. It’s been nearly six weeks since 9 year-old Devin Mitchell was shot and killed at his home in Prue. His father wasn't home when it happened. He'd left his son with a teenaged friend. Carl Mitchell, Victim's Father: "I trusted him more than most adults I know - this blew me away." Then a few days ago - another shock - when he learned the Osage County District Attorney has charged the teenage suspect with first-degree manslaughter. "This kid is 14 years-old. No one knows what going through his mind - I am in fear of the welfare of the children that go to school down there."

Because the suspect is still attending 7th grade at Prue Public Schools. Michelle Selig, Concerned Parent: "I don't think it's good for anybody - especially him or the rest of the kids." Two of them are Michelle Selig's kids. "That was a couple of years ago." They were classmates and neighbors of Devin Mitchell. Since the shooting they say there've been rumors the teenage suspect has made threats at school. "I really don't want to see anything happen to any kids there."

The high school says the sheriff's office and Department of Human Services investigated one incident on a school bus last month, and found no evidence of a threat. The principal says there are several reasons the boy is still attending class. Larry Nettles, Principal: "First of all there's been no finding of guilt - no finding of intent - the judge has released him to his parents and released him to go back to school." He says he's in constant contact with the Sheriff's office and DHS. "At this point from both organizations - the word I get - as of this morning - is we have no basis for taking any action whatsoever."

But Michelle Selig believes the school shouldn't wait - and should take the teenage suspect out of class - at least temporarily. "Wait until the case has been completed - for his sake for everybody else's sake - because there's people that are angry about it - there's people that don't know how to deal with it - I don’t' think he really is in a good state of mind."

Diane called the Osage County District Attorney's Office. The DA says he could not comment because the case involves a juvenile. The Principal at Prue also told us that any concerned parents should contact them, the superintendent has also scheduled a public forum on school safety. It's Thursday evening at the school. The Osage County Sheriff will be there to answer questions.