Florida Marine vet teacher on leave after telling students he would 'be the best school shooter'

news
Lakeland Senior High School

A high school teacher is on administrative leave after telling a classroom of students that he would "be the best school shooter" and described a hypothetical strategy.

Keith Cook, a math teacher at Lakeland Senior High School since late 2014, is on administrative during the human resource department's "active investigation," a spokeswoman for Polk County Public Schools told the Daily News Saturday.


During a lockdown on Aug. 16, CNN reports that Cook, a former U.S. Marine, allegedly told students at the Tampa-area school in Lakeland that he would "be the best school shooter" with a "1,000-person body count," according to a Polk County risk protection order.

Though Cook told authorities he was joking, 16 students told police of his disturbing remarks. These included his description of planting improvised explosive devices before he would "fire a couple rounds and wait for everyone to hide, then press a button and boom — everyone would die," one student described.

Another student said Cook remarked that "he would put a bomb in the corner and put nails in it for shrapnel."

Cook has no criminal history, but "may be seriously mentally ill or may have recurring mental health issues," as per a temporary ex parte risk protection order.

Police found no weapons in his home nor vehicle, according to court documents.

The Polk County School District is "cooperating fully with the law enforcement investigation," Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd said in a statement, also noting the district's "own internal investigation."

"All students and staff members are safe," an email assured families of the school Friday, noting Cook's "upsetting" description of "hypothetical acts of violence against the school."

Cook, the note said, was not arrested though "a risk protection order was requested and granted."

"Parents and students should be assured that we take any potential threat against our students and schools seriously," the note read. "Student safety is — and always will be — paramount within our school district."

"We have no further comment," the spokeswoman told The News, citing the "ongoing investigation."

Cook is scheduled for an Aug. 30 hearing on a final risk protection order.

———

©2019 New York Daily News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Afghan National Army forces go towards the site of an airplane crash in Deh Yak district of Ghazni province, Afghanistan January 27, 2020. (REUTERS/Mustafa Andaleb)

KABUL (Reuters) - At least 29 members of the Afghan security forces have been killed in Taliban attacks that followed air and ground assaults by government forces on the Islamist group at the weekend.

The surge in hostilities signals deadlock at stop-start peace talks involving U.S and Taliban negotiators in Doha. The Defense Ministry said on Sunday government forces had killed 51 Taliban fighters in the weekend assaults.

But the Taliban hit back, carrying out attacks on security checkpoints in the northern province of Kunduz on Tuesday night in which a security official who declined to be identified said 15 members of the Afghan army were killed.

Read More
Gen. Chuck Horner (ret.) commanded the air campaign of Desert Storm (Task & Purpose photo illustration)

When Air Force Gen. Chuck Horner (ret.) took to the podium at the dedication of the National Desert Storm and Desert Shield Memorial site in Washington D.C. last February, he told the audience that people often ask him why a memorial is necessary for a conflict that only lasted about 40 days.

Horner, who commanded the U.S. air campaign of that war, said the first reason is to commemorate those who died in the Gulf War. Then he pointed behind him, towards the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, where the names of over 58,000 Americans who died in Vietnam are etched in granite.

"These two monuments are inexorably linked together," Horner said. "Because we had in Desert Storm a president and a secretary of defense who did the smartest thing in the world: they gave the military a mission which could be accomplished by military force."

The Desert Storm Memorial "is a place every military person that's going to war should visit, and they learn to stand up when they have to, to avoid the stupidness that led to that disaster" in Vietnam, he added.

Now, 29 years after the operation that kicked Saddam Hussein's Iraqi army out of Kuwait began, the U.S. is stuck in multiple wars that Horner says resemble the one he and his fellow commanders tried to avoid while designing Desert Storm.

Horner shared his perspective on what went right in the Gulf War, and what's gone wrong since then, in an interview last week with Task & Purpose.

Read More
Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar (U.S. Army photo)

The Navy SEAL accused of strangling Army Special Forces Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar was promoted to chief petty officer two months after Melgar's death, according to a new report from The Daily Beast.

Read More
A C-17 Globemaster III assigned to the 911th Airlift Wing is towed across the flightline at March Air Reserve Base, California, Jan. 7, 2020. (Air Force photo by Joshua J. Seybert)

March Air Reserve Base in California will host nearly 200 U.S. citizens who were flown out of Wuhan, China due to the rapidly-spreading coronavirus, a Defense Department spokeswoman announced on Wednesday.

"March Air Reserve Base and the Department of Defense (DoD) stand ready to provide housing support to Health and Human Services (HHS) as they work to handle the arrival of nearly 200 people, including Department of State employees, dependents and U.S. citizens evacuated from Wuhan, China," said Pentagon press secretary Alyssa Farah in a statement on Wednesday.

Wuhan is the epicenter of the coronavirus, which is a mild to severe respiratory illness that's associated with symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The virus has so far killed 132 people and infected nearly 6,000 others in China, according to news reports.

Read More
A KC-46A Pegasus during testing with a C-5M Super Galaxy for the first time on April 29, 2019. (U.S. Air Force/Christian Turner)

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

Protracted delays on Boeing's new KC-46 tanker could leave the Pentagon with a shortage of refueling capacity, the head of U.S. Transportation Command warned on Tuesday.

Read More