Archive for Friday, June 3, 2011

Shooting of McLouth student in Costa Rica gives some Lawrence parents pause

USD 342 Superintendent Steve Splichal releases information about MHS student Justin Johnston, who died early Thursday morning. He was the victim of an overnight shooting while in Costa Rica.

June 3, 2011


McLouth High School student Justin Johnston, 16, was shot and killed Thursday, June 2, 2011, while on a trip to Costa Rica with the school's Spanish Club.

McLouth High School student Justin Johnston, 16, was shot and killed Thursday, June 2, 2011, while on a trip to Costa Rica with the school's Spanish Club.

Lora Schneider’s son Jackson, a Free State sophomore, was on his way back from an educational tour in Washington, D.C., when she heard about the death of a McLouth student in Costa Rica.

“My heart just dropped,” Schneider said. “I just went numb. We’re all kind of shocked.”

Schneider said she’d considered sending her son on a trip overseas, and might still do so in the future, but the news about the shooting death of Justin Johnston certainly gives her pause.

It also provided her an opportunity to sit her son down and have a serious discussion about following safety measures when on such trips.

Wayne Dedloff’s son, Hunter, also a Free State sophomore, was on the same D.C. trip. They had also considered an overseas trip for Hunter, but decided against it.

Dedloff said he was “a little apprehensive” about sending his son overseas, but that the shooting in Costa Rica didn’t have a big impact on his level of concern.

“It can happen anywhere,” said Dedloff of potentially dangerous situations on educational trips.

Schneider said the recent news has been a hot topic among parents, and many were just relieved when there sons and daughters returned safely from the trip Thursday night.

“(Jackson) got an extra big hug when he got home,” she said.


Richard Heckler 6 years ago

Children traveling abroad need a little guidance.

When visiting other countries it might be best to stay with the group until one becomes familiar with the foreign environment. Becoming familiar will take a while.

geekin_topekan 6 years ago

"It also provided her an opportunity to sit her son down and have a serious discussion about following safety measures when on such trips." ++++ And the thought never crossed her mind prior?

momof2ku 6 years ago

Is this really all you got from this article. Shame on you.

MarcoPogo 6 years ago

I got that Jackson got an extra big hug.

Gayla Bieker 6 years ago

This is a terrible accident and should have never happened--- however I have to say I am opposed to student trips outside the US. Too many things have happened to students over the past 5 yrs. Why does a spanish class feel that they need to travel to Costa Rica? I took spanish myself & never had to travel out of the US for a class trip. All sorts of things can happen when you're in a strange county where everything is unfamiliar. I would like to know the age of the people in charge and why they were out of the hotel at 4:00 am?????? This could have easily been avoided. Very sad that another life needs to be taken for a unnecessary trip. Lets get back to the real reason of school & classes and stop the overseas trips. Regardless of where the money comes from.......

mom_of_three 6 years ago

These trips were arranged with a tour group in relation to something the students learned in class. Parents and students paid for this trip, to learn more about another country and culture they were interested in. Nothing wrong with taking a trip outside of the US. I think there is a group leaving with EF Tours next week, to go to Ireland or somewhere. A few of my kids' friends are going. Nothing wrong with that.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years ago

What happened to this kid could just as easily have happened here. Kids sneaking out of their rooms on field trips is hardly new. It's an age-old phenomenon. And there is certainly no shortage of guns or poorly trained, trigger-happy security men in this country.

Sure, adults should have done a better job of supervising the kids, and the kids likely should have been better prepared for making smart decisions in unfamiliar territory. But the same would have been true even if the field trip was in Boston or Denver or Kansas City or even Lawrence.

kb900 6 years ago

I couldn't disagree with you more. Student's should be encouraged to break out of the box and see whats outside the US. This was a horrible accident that could of been avoided only if the boys wouldn't of snuck at night. Adults in charge should not be responsible for watching these teenagers sleep, the boys should of known better not too. Accidents happen and hopefully this will teach a lesson to future kids who take class trips, anywhere, not just outside the US because this accident could of happened anywhere.

netplayn 6 years ago

I actually agree with you. As a former teacher that chaperoned high school students on trips within the US (and within a 3-hour drive of home), i would NEVER want to chaperone students outside of the US or to large cities, such as NYC or LA. It doesn't matter how nice, well-behaved, or intelligent a young person is, they are still YOUNG and they do NOT think of consequences to their actions. SO many things could have happened - kidnapping, robbery, other injury, getting lost, etc. This is a heartbreaking event, but I hope that parents will SERIOUSLY reconsider sending young people overseas on class trips - I would NEVER do this and I've said that for YEARS - not just now.

fu7il3 6 years ago

I don't think you can assume the guard was poorly trained, or trigger-happy,even. It's not like he startled took out his gun and shot the kid without seeing him. He saw what he perceived as a threat to the people he was supposed to be protecting. Reasonable, considering they were coming in through the barbed wire fence. He fired a warning shot, and the threat ran towards the people he was paid to protect. He managed to kill his threat with a .22, which means he was pretty accurate.

It's a shame that it was a kid sneaking away in a foreign country at 4am, but if it had been a robber or kidnapper who had run in, grabbed this same kid, taken him hostage, robbed him, or killed him, the guard would be in hot water because he just let the guy run into the hotel.

They should have at least had one adult in each one of the hotel rooms. I can't imagine anything good that is going to happen by leaving these kids unsupervised in foreign country, even if you think they are in bed.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years ago

"I don't think you can assume the guard was poorly trained, or trigger-happy,even."

Sure I can. Just as easily as you can assume he wasn't.

The main point is, the same thing could have happened here.

Richard Heckler 6 years ago

KCMO news reported the security guard has been charged with homicide.

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