Sunday, March 7, 2010

Elementary Special Ed Teacher Killed by a Stalker on School Grounds

Shooting At a School or Workplace Violence: Elementary Special Ed Teacher Killed By Stalker

When does an external threat against a school employee become a threat to the safety of the school community?

Incident. On Feb 26 at 0735 am, Jennifer Paulson, a 30 year old female special education teacher, was shot and killed as she was entering Birney Elementary School before students arrived. (The school has about 400 students in kindergarten through fifth grade and is located in Pierce County in Tacoma Washington.) Jed Waits, the shooter, was waiting for her at school and shot her multiple times near the school’s front entrance and then fled by car. She died immediately and a custodian initiated a call to 911 with a description of the gunman’s car. A deputy pulled the gunman aside 10 miles from school in a parking lot near a daycare center. Jed Waits came out of the car firing and was shot dead. School official diverted inbound school busses to another location and cancelled school for the day (Friday) as a large number of police and ambulances responded to the school.

Background. Jed Waits knew Miss Paulson (his victim) since college where they worked together in the college cafeteria. He had recently been released after being arrested for violating a protective order. In 2008, Waits had showed up and entered the school as an unapproved visitor and had also sent unwarranted gifts to her at school. The Principal contacted Wait’s National Guard Commander to inform him of the harassment. Waits received a less than honorable discharge in April 2009 from the Wash Army National Guard due to a pattern of misconduct. An anti-harassment order was issued which Wait’s violated by coming within 1000 ft of her home which resulted in his arrest. Classes were also cancelled for Monday as well including a memorial ceremony at the scene of the shooting. School district spokesman Dan Voelpel said Paulson worked in the language resource center helping students one-on-one with reading problems. She had been with the district since 2004 and at the school since 2007. Paulson's death "knocked everyone flat," Voelpel said. "It's going to hit this community hard."

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