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Gun was never unattended, says former school employee

But the groundskeeper, who is a reserve officer with the Elkhart County Sheriff's Department, argues that the firearm was with him at all times.

Posted on Feb. 12, 2014 at 12:01 p.m.

ELKHART — Concord Community Schools said that one of its former employees, groundskeeper Rick Ball, brought a gun to school on Jan. 27 and Jan. 28 and left the gun unattended inside his coat pocket "at various times throughout those two days."

The district asked Ball, who is an Elkhart County Sheriff's Department reserve officer, to resign because of the incident. 

Ball said he never left the gun unattended. 

"The coat was on me at all times," he told The Elkhart Truth on Wednesday morning, Feb. 12.

He added that if he had left the gun unattended, he's sure that he would have been reprimanded by the sheriff because of his status as a reserve officer. 

Superintendent Wayne Stubbs said on Wednesday that several employees observed Ball taking off his coat and setting it aside during the two days. Stubbs also said that he mentioned the gun being unattended as an issue to Ball when the two met about the incident, and "I don't' recall him disputing that when we sat down and talked."

Sheriff Brad Rogers has taken a public stance on the issue on his Facebook page. On Tuesday night, he posted that he's talked to school administration privately about the issue but hasn't gotten very far.

"I'm not dictating to Concord who they hire and fire," Rogers wrote on Facebook. "I have a problem with someone who is dictating to the Sheriff on who's an officer and who isn't and what authority the officer has; who is breaking the law and who isn't; saying law enforcement needs Board approval to bring a gun on the premises"

Rogers wrote later in the post that he is "not going to play the zero tolerance mentality minus common sense."

Concord's statement issued on Tuesday contends that Ball does not "meet the statutory definition of a law enforcement officer" and said Ball wasn't approved by school officials to have a handgun on school grounds. 

"Additionally, the former employee left that handgun unguarded when he brought it to school," the statement said.

But Ball said that just isn't true.

This story will be updated.
Follow reporter Lydia Sheaks on Twitter at @LydiaSheaks




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