A Missouri House committee is considering a bill that would make last month's visit by a TV reporter to Kirkwood High School a felony. The KSDK reporter's visit prompted a lockdown after he wandered off unescorted and school administrators were unable to reach the TV station to verify he was working on a story about school security.
The bill's sponsor Richmond Heights Democrat Stacey Newman tells the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that information about school security needs to be private to ensure that procedures are effective.
But not everyone on the Crime Prevention and Public Safety Committee agrees. Kansas City Democrat Brandon Ellington says it would be passing a bill to stop people from exposing the holes in a system that shouldn't have holes.
The station has apologized for the incident.
KSDK-TV led its 10 p.m. newscast Sunday night with an apology for the station's role in a lockdown at Kirkwood High School last week.
News Anchor Mike Bush said the station hadn't intended to scare students, teachers or parents when it sent a reporter to the school for an investigative piece on school security. When school personnel lost track of the reporter, they called his cell phone and learned he worked for KSDK, but they were unable to verify that he had been on assignment at the school. That's when they locked down the building as a precaution.
Bush went on to say that it doesn't matter what the station's intentions were, their actions "caused undue stress and fear."
Bush says KSDK General Manager (Lynn Beall) met with the Kirkwood Superintendent to apologize in person.
Bush says the Channel 5 news team spent the weekend evaluating what happened and what they could be doing differently. He says they've "already begun implementing changes to make sure nothing like this happens again."
Kirkwood High School was locked down for a short time Thursday afternoon after a local television reporter tried to test the school's security response.
School officials say that a man entered the front office and asked to speak with security. When the secretary returned with the school resource officer, the man was gone. Officials contacted police and performed a search of the school. They did not find the man and the lockdown was lifted. It was later determined that the man was a reporter for KSDK News Channel 5.
In a statement, KSDK says they tried to test security at five schools as a part of the story. The statement continues that "this lockdown certainly was not the intent of our visit".
KSDK's Full Statement:
NewsChannel 5 recognizes the importance of safety in our schools. As part of a continuing investigation this afternoon, we visited five local schools.
One of our employees assigned to this investigative report visited Kirkwood High School. He entered and walked his way toward the office, asking a teacher for directions after a few minutes. There, he asked if he might discuss the school's security. He identified himself by name and gave the office his phone number.
When the security official could not be reached, our employee left the premises without escort.
Approximately an hour later – after our visit – the high school was put on lock down. This lock down certainly was not the intent of our visit.
Kirkwood police are looking for a 19 year old man wanted for murder. Police say Nicholas Lunceford shot an 18 year old man about 4:30 Monday afternoon at a home on Pleasant Court.
Police say Lunceford should be considered armed and dangerous.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that relatives of the victim have identified him as Brandon Richards, a recent graduate of Kirkwood High School.
Anyone with information about the crime or Lunceford’s whereabouts is asked to call Kirkwood Police Detective Dave Smith, at 314-698-3646.