A Buna school resource officer involved in a Tuesday morning intruder drill that drew the ire of the school superintendent and local law enforcement has made a written statement and has posted it on the KJAS Facebook page.
It happened at Buna Elementary School and, according to Jasper County Sheriff Mitchel Newman, Chief Deputy Scotty Duncan, and School Superintendent Donny Lee, no one was made aware that it was going to happen.
Michael Henderson wrote in his statement that it was a planned event, and he also said that he was notified by a school administrator in the previous week that it would be taking place at some point during the current week. However, Henderson did not name the school administrator. Later on in the statement, Henderson reiterated by writing “This was a SCHOOL SANCTIONED AND REQUIRED EVENT and I was TOLD to do it by ADMINISTRATION.” Henderson also said that the administrator asked him to show up in plain clothes and to check the exterior doors of the elementary and high school.
KJAS News has asked for Henderson to name the administrator or provide anything in writing about this. Henderson responded "Your questionable reporting creates even more questions. I've said what I'm going to say, at least to the news media."
Henderson’s written statement is, however, contradictory to what Buna School Superintendent Donny Lee said earlier on Tuesday. We asked Lee if anyone in administration or staff was made aware of the event before it happened, to which he replied “No, absolutely not, didn’t notify anybody.” Lee also said “You would think that they would at least notify the superintendent; ‘Hey, we’re going to do an intruder drill, just FYI, this is what we’re going to do’, no, nothing, just cold.”
Henderson, who Lee said has only worked for Buna ISD for one week, has leveled accusations in his statement that someone is lying. Henderson wrote “I have good reason to believe that I know why these lies were told and it's unfortunate. However, regardless of their source or intent, they are still outright LIES.”
Henderson also defended the fact that there were teachers and students in the school when this occurred. Henderson said “If you have an understanding of school security and basic common sense you'll also understand that in order to test the effectiveness of any system, you need natural reactions. In other words, don't warn people ahead of time.” Henderson also wrote “Additionally, I waited as long as possible for as many little kids to be inside so as not to scare them from any possible response from staff.”
As for the head of the school resource department, Mark McKinley, Henderson said that McKinley did not participate, but instead monitored his actions on video.
The following is Henderson’s complete written statement:
“I've been called a lot of things in my life. Some bad, some good, some true, some not. I take exception to the untruths, addressing some and ignoring others. It comes with the job. When it comes to my integrity and my reputation, I draw the line there.
Regarding the situation at Buna Elementary this morning, there are a number of outright lies being circulated. Since some who were involved won't do the right thing, I'm more than happy to. The chips will fall where they may, but truth is truth and I while I can abide a great many things, having my reputation tarnished by those seeking to shield themselves from the fallout is something I can't abide. Not one dang bit.
1. This was a PLANNED EVENT. I was notified by a school administrator LAST WEEK that it would be taking place some time THIS WEEK. I wasn't aware of the date or time, only that I was asked by this administrator to "show up in plain clothes" and check the exterior doors of the Elementary and High Schools. If you have an understanding of school security and basic common sense you'll also understand that in order to test the effectiveness of any system, you need natural reactions. In other words, don't warn people ahead of time. So, this wasn't spontaneous. We did NOT "Take it upon ourselves" to conduct the drill. This was a SCHOOL SANCTIONED AND REQUIRED EVENT and I was TOLD to do it by ADMINISTRATION. I have good reason to believe that I know why these lies were told and it's unfortunate. However, regardless of their source or intent, they are still outright LIES. Given the nature of the "exercise" and the response it could potentially generate, once at the Elementary School I removed my duty weapon and magazines and left them in my patrol car. Which, I might add, was parked prominently in the FRONT of the Elementary AND High Schools. Additionally, I waited as long as possible for as many little kids to be inside so as not to scare them from any possible response from staff.
2. Mark McKinley did not participate, other than to monitor my actions on video. Contrary to what was reported on the apparent fake news website, KJAS, and what was also reported by a member of Jasper County Sheriff's Department administration, there were NOT camouflaged "officers". There was just ONE officer and that was me. I wasn't even "camouflaged", I had been wearing a camo jacket which was over my district-issued blue polo shirt which says, in large letters on the back, "POLICE" and has a small BUNA ISD POLICE logo on the left front breast. Once I made my way back to the front of the school it was removed. KJAS also contradicted itself in its biased and misleading article, as it states one time there were camouflaged officers then another time states that I was the only one dressed in camo. Let's not let the facts stand in the way of a good story though.
3. I was NOT trying to "break in through doors and windows". I was tasked with checking to see if the exterior doors were locked or not. Nothing was mentioned to me about windows, I did not touch any windows. I did not even attempt to "break in" period, merely check to see if the doors were locked.
4. To those saying I should have notified someone, that's not how things work. I'm not running or in charge of anything and it's my job, especially as low man on the totem pole, to do as I'm asked and not question if the proper plans or steps have been taken. My assumption was that since this was a SCHOOL SANCTIONED EVENT, those steps had been taken prior to me being involved in this. My fault lies in believing that had been done.
5. To those who have chosen to believe the lies being perpetuated by some on KJAS and other sites, I'm curious to know how you view CNN, MSNBC, and other mainstream media sources in their treatment of our President. I'd be willing to bet a very large percentage of you call them for what they are-fake news-yet here you all are, shoveling in more lies without even stopping to think that there is ALWAYS more to the story.
6. Some have called for Mark and I to be fired. I say if you can do this better, feel free. Come on out, lend your expertise. With all the law enforcement experts there should be no shortage of willing volunteers. Just don't try your hand at investigations because based on what I've seen just from this one incident, most would do a piss poor job at gathering facts before pronouncing guilt.
7. To those who know me (and those who don't) and have offered words of encouragement, it is more appreciated than you know. To those who don't know me yet still feel somehow qualified to weigh in on something you didn't witness nor have reliable information about, your opinion and 99 cents will get you a cup of coffee anywhere in town. God knows the truth and that's all I'm concerned with.”