Teacher robbed at gunpoint at Youngstown elementary school

Police were called about 6:40 a.m. to Taft Elementary School on E. Avondale Avenue

A staff member at Taft Elementary school in Youngstown was robbed gunpoint.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – It certainly wasn’t what Youngstown City Schools CEO Krish Mohip expected to be dealing with Tuesday — one of his teachers getting held-up at gunpoint as she was arriving for work.

Mohip said the female teacher was coming to Taft Elementary School early at about 6:30 a.m. when she was confronted by a person wearing a mask. The person pulled out a gun, fired a shot into the air and took her purse.

An officer on patrol in the neighborhood heard the gunshot and followed it to the scene.

At the same time, several blocks away, ICU Blockwatch President Victoria Allen heard the gunshot followed by the radio call for police.

“I was going to school to check on the teacher, because I feel for the teacher. I’m a mother, you know, I want to try to help,” she said.

Allen says by the time she got to the school, police were already there, but the robber had run away. Police said he was last seen running down South Avenue, and investigators are reviewing security tape and looking for the person.

“The teacher’s purse was on the ground. All of her items kind of scattered. She was kinda shook up, but not physically hurt,” Allen recalled.

Phillip Tharpe, a parent, witnessed the incident from his vehicle, while the person pointed the gun at his car after the robbery.

“Even my son had seen it,” he said. “He was pointing the gun dead at us and our windshield. And by the grace of God, he didn’t shoot the car up. I just slapped on the breaks and backed up. And while I was doing that, he was running.”

Mohip said he told the first-year teacher to take some time off work to get composed. He plans to work with local police and outside experts, including the head of security for his old district in Chicago, to have them review practices in place to see what might need changed.

Beginning immediately, Taft will also have additional personnel onsite before, during and after school, for extended hours until the threat has subsided.

“We’re going to put more security officers in the building for the next few weeks until we really can get a handle… on how to move forward with a strategic approach for the entire district,” Mohip said.

While Mohip says he wants to see increased security in the morning hours before school, Allen said there is nothing wrong with calling for help, especially if you’re alone.

“Just kinda be aware of what’s going on around you. If you don’t feel safe, you know, call 911, have someone come out and check out the area,” she said.

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