Student shot in school cafeteria disciplined for protesting shooting

Cooper Caffrey, of Cincinnati, has a perspective on school shootings that you don’t, unless, of course, you’ve been shot while eating chicken mcnuggets in your school’s cafeteria.

Perhaps you remember him from the time he spoke in court to the kid who shot him.

So it was no-brainer this month when students staged a nationwide walkout at their schools for 17 minutes, memorializing the people killed at a Florida school shooting, and making clear that they would like safer schools.

For his effort, young Cooper and a few dozen other students got detention.

And, for the most part, they’re good with that.

Without punishment, his father says, the walkout would have been meaningless.

The school says the student council met with administrators several times before the walkout and decided that because the protest would be seen as advocating gun control in a blood red area of the country, they wouldn’t walk out. They would wear school colors and stickers — the physical equivalent of changing social media avatars — instead.

“He’s always hated the attention from all of this,” Marty Caffrey tells the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I know that he really just wanted to pretend that day never happened.”

The high school principal made an announcement to all students about the significance of why some were wearing the Florida school’s colors.

He also told students they would be punished for any activity that disrupts the school day.

Cooper was pissed, he texted his dad, because they were telling him what to do. And pissed because he cared.

Later that morning, he and 42 other students walked outside into the school’s courtyard. This is where officials shepherded them because they felt the front of the building would be too dangerous.

But the students tried to get to the front flagpole anyway, as school resource officers commanded them to stop. They made it to the side of the building, where administrators finally corralled them.

The students concluded their 17-minute demonstration in prayer.

“We are a society of rules,” a school board member said at a meeting this week at which he demanded the students apologize to the school “resource officer.”

Cooper immediately turned to his dad, who said he saw the blood seemingly drain from his son’s face.

“It was like being shot all over again,” he would later tell his dad about French’s words. Back on the cold floor, looking for help.

As the school board moved on and began discussing a program that could arm teachers, Cooper put his head in his hands. He looked at his dad again:

“We should come to every single one of these things so that doesn’t happen.”

The next day, he brought a petition to school and started gathering signatures.

School shootings can move school administrators to act sometimes. But nothing gets their dander up like kids with a mind of their own.

Related: School safety plan presented (Pioneer Press)

  • Gary F

    So this kid got shot because other kids at school saw this Austin kid with a gun and didn’t report it?

  • Barton

    I… don’t understand why the kids had to apologize to the school resource officer? For not following his instructions? Did they verbally insult him?

    • jon

      It’s ok, rather than offer a genuine apology, offer a classic non-apology.
      “we are sorry that our school officials were offended by our protest, and have a greater sorrow over the fact that they have demonstrated, through their actions and inactions, they’d rather have people not be offend, instead of supporting protecting children in schools.”

      • joetron2030

        It’s how adults roll. So, why not.

  • kevins

    There is a time to question authority, and that serves a higher purpose. Good for the 43 students. They will soon be able to vote for school board members.

  • Mike

    Although it shouldn’t have to happen this way for anyone, Cooper is learning a valuable lesson at a young age: the authorities are not your friends, and are not on your side.

    I really feel sorry for kids these days. Not only have they become easy targets for our culture’s general penchant for violence, they are told by the authorities that they should just shut up and take it – that they should remain quietly in their seats while deranged gunmen take aim. If they speak out, it will mightily offend the NRA and the arms manufacturers. And who wouldn’t want to give up his or her life to preserve the delicate sensibilities of the gun nuts?

    Although I don’t believe this is a problem that can be fixed with a few new laws, I hope more and more kids engage in civil disobedience to protest it. Bring down the rafters rather than meekly submit to being a sitting duck. Keep speaking out, and purposely enrage the gutless school board and half the voters in the district. Don’t let the would-be police state called your school system prevent you from denouncing them.

    “Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.” – Rosa Luxemburg

  • Jay T. Berken

    ““We are a society of rules,” a school board member said”

    Unless you are are older ‘patriotic’ white male, then rules are made to break for freedom. Or a rich older white male whom is playing buy the free markets rules of the ‘invisible hand’ and greed.

    What a condescending, hypocritical a$$.

  • AL287

    Over the last few years I’ve noticed lack of manners and common courtesies like “Thank you,” “Please,” “May I?” “Pardon me/Excuse me,” and “I’m sorry,” and respect for elders and adults in charge are rapidly disappearing from children’s vocabularies, especially in the last 18 months and it is starting at younger and younger ages.

    At one of the elementary schools where I substitute teach, subs and regular teachers are stationed at various points inside and outside the school to keep order as he students arrive for school and go to the buses after school. There is not to be any running–at all and that goes double for heavy snow days and below zero weather days.

    I might as well be talking to the air when I tell any number of students to stop running and it is usually the “usual suspects” no matter what day I sub.

    If I am understanding this correctly, the students agreed to wear the Florida school colors and informed the principal of their decision. Leaving class and gathering in front of the school was not.

    I think it’s great that the students exercised their 1st amendment rights, but their actions went beyond the original agreement and they got the consequence for disrupting the school day—detention.

    Had they stayed in the courtyard they still would have gotten detention and gotten their message across as thousands of students did across the country. Failing to obey the school resource officer’s commands to stop is what school administrators took issue with.

    The administrators kept their agreement/promise and the students got detention.

    The students did not.

    • The students who walked out weren’t part of the agreement. That was the student council as the story indicated.

      The students want change. Can you think of any societal change that’s ever taken place without offending those who had power over them? Me neither.

      • DJ Wambeke

        The administrators with “power over” the students also have the obligation to ensure their safety, which they cannot do if kids are running about where they aren’t supposed to be. Even Caffrey’s dad understands that. From the linked article: “Marty Caffrey understands school officials were put in a tough position, worried about safety, and will always be grateful for how they helped his son in the aftermath of the shooting.”

        • RBHolb

          Ensuring their safety from whom? The students weren’t supposed to walk out “because the protest would be seen as advocating gun control in a blood red area of the country”. The front of the building would be “too dangerous” because–why? Too visible?

          I see a community that has a lot to answer for here.

      • AL287

        >>“He’s always hated the attention from all of this,” Marty
        Caffrey tells the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I know that he really just
        wanted to pretend that day never happened.”<>Cooper was pissed, he texted his dad, because they were telling him what to do. And pissed because he cared.<<

        I see an angry young man who might be in for a "whole heap of trouble" if he doesn't get help for his anger management issues and I see a parent enabling his behavior by making excuses for him.

        • You’ve never been pissed about anything? What is it exactly that he did that makes you think he had anger management issues? Did he break something? Nope. Did he start shouting at the school board meeting? Nope. He sat quietly and didn’t say a thing. Did he refuse to go to detention? Nope, he accepted his punishment as a consequence of his civic participation.

          He got pissed because he didn’t think colored T-shirts would make a difference in someone ELSE getting shot. And he didn’t apologize for not following the rules dictated by people in power.

          We used to call those type of people “patriots”

          • AL287

            “Power tends to corrupt and
            absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost
            always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not
            authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or the
            certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy
            than that the office sanctifies the holder of it. That is the
            point at which . . . the end learns to justify the means. You
            would hang a man of no position, . . . but if what one hears
            is true, then Elizabeth asked the gaoler to murder Mary, and
            William III ordered his Scots minister to extirpate a clan.
            Here are the greater names coupled with the greater crimes.
            You would spare these criminals, for some mysterious reason. I
            would hang them, higher than Haman, for reasons of quite
            obvious justice; still more, still higher, for the sake of
            historical science. . . .”


            Lord Acton

            (John Emerich Edward Dalberg)

        • RBHolb

          “I see an angry young man who might be in for a “whole heap of trouble” if he doesn’t get help for his anger management issues . . .”

          Isn’t this just an other way of saying “suck it up, buttercup”?

          • AL287

            Yes, RBHolb sometimes you DO have to suck it up. What is the saying? Oh! yes. Right. Discretion is the better part of valor.

            The young man convicted in the shooting, by his own admission had buried a lot of anger since he was a young boy which resulted in that pent up anger erupting from the barrel of a gun that he brought to school, illegally I might add.

            “To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3

            If there was an opportunity for public comment during the school board meeting (which there usually is unless it is a closed meeting), the young man missed a golden opportunity to express his anger openly without hiding behind a text message, something his generation is prone to do on a fairly regular basis.

            This tendency for youth to write things online they would never say to someone to their face (our illustrious POTUS has this same adolescent tendency) has contributed to the increase in bullying with almost predictable results—-angry lashing out that has ended with a violent, often deadly result, Parkland being the most recent.

          • You have a lot of anger with this generation, I’ve noticed.

          • AL287

            I have no patience with cowards. Hiding behind a smart phone or computer screen to use foul language and or to hurl insults and say mean and hateful things is the avatar of a coward.

            Were you and I face to face having this conversation, there would no doubt be non-verbals and sometimes raised voices but I would hope both of us leave satisfied and hopefully better informed about each others opinion.

            Only cowards end a relationship, fire an employee or any number of situations in which a face-to-face encounter would be the more sensitive and just solution.

            I rest my case.

          • What on earth does any of that have to do with this story?

          • RBHolb

            Kids today, amiright?

            I don’t know whose “anger issues” you’re talking about here. First, it sounded like you referring to Mr. Cooper–the boy who was shot. Then, you talk about the boy who was convicted of the shooting, and his anger issues. Whose anger is the problem here?

            “If there was an opportunity for public comment during the school board meeting . . .” It sounds like there wasn’t. The student council met with the school administration to agree on a non-protest show of solidarity (the public school version of “thoughts and prayers”). I get the impression it was not a public meeting, open to a discussion of different points of view. The original article does not mention any opportunity for the public to speak at the school board meeting.

            Yes, I can understand his anger.

          • Angry Jonny

            Condescension, blinders, AND a bible verse to boot. You follow the pamphlet to the T, don’t you?

        • Marty

          Then you don’t really see any of this do you?

  • Guest

    I personally would have punished them…….by having them in detention for exactly 17 minutes.

    • jon

      served silently… outside… by the flagpole.

    • That is an awesome comment, right there.

  • Mike Worcester

    //student council met with administrators several times before the walkout
    and decided that because the protest would be seen as advocating gun
    control in a blood red area of the country

    I did not realise that just because the message you’d be advocating runs counter to the majority opinion that one must sit still and keep quiet. Glad to see those young folks did not share that mindset.

    • It’s always interesting when people lecture about the school’s role in preparing kids for the world they’ll have to live in within a year or two, they never mention questioning authority and challenging the rules imposed upon them.

      • Rob

        Indeed. The K-12 education system is the only place in American society where the people being served have virtually no say in how the services are provided, or how the system as a whole should roll. Student input is not solicited, and any proactive efforts on the part of students to have a voice in operations and policies is routinely rebuffed. The lesson in school seems to be: You can question authority all you want – just not here.

  • AmiSchwab

    resist authority.