Feds investigate Russell Co. teen, sheriff testifies at state ca - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Feds investigate Russell Co. teen, sheriff testifies at state capitol

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MONTGOMERY, AL (WTVM) -

The FBI in Opelika is reviewing the case against Derek Shrout, 17, the Russell County teen accused of plotting to use homemade grenades against his fellow high school students. 

Federal investigators are trying to determine whether a hate crime charge is appropriate.

Sheriff Heath Taylor said he is conducting additional interviews of students who were known to associate with Shrout, but so far he has not found reason to make more arrests.

There was a hearing at the state house of representatives in Montgomery, Wednesday, to discuss how the state of Alabama will proceed on the issue of school safety in light of widespread national attention the subject has recently received.  Sheriff Heath Taylor was there to help state politicians decide what course of action to take.

"One of the ideas that I suggested was maybe the state, or the homeland security office, spearhead the hire of retired sworn officers," said Taylor.

Taylor says the biggest financial obstacle to having armed guards in schools is the cost of paying healthcare and benefits, but hiring a retired officer through a contract would eliminate that issue from the equation.  The idea of giving guns to the teachers themselves was brought up.

"There was a lot of talk about arming one or two trained administrators."

Those who opposed this idea argued that finding a teacher who is willing to go through the necessary training may be difficult and adding those extra responsibilities may distract them from being a successful educator.

People at the Capitol were pleased to hear that what happened in Russell County was a real-life example of school district officials working together with law enforcement to identify and prevent a threat before it became a tragedy.

"You have to take every one of these cases seriously and you have to recognize the signs when there are signs presented so you can potentially stop it early," said Taylor, "We've just got to make it safe for our kids. There isn't a parent around here that isn't horrified about sending their kid to school."

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