ASHLAND CITY, Tenn. — A 14-year-old boy asked to speak to school counselor Molly Hudgens after first period Wednesday morning. She was the only one he could talk to about the loaded gun he was carrying and his plan to shoot teachers and a police officer.
After a 45-minute conversation in her Sycamore Middle School office, she talked the boy into handing over the gun, according to Cheatham County Sheriff Mike Breedlove.
All students and staff members were safe, and no one was harmed, Breedlove said.
The weapon, a loaded semi-automatic pistol, along with additional ammunition, was secured.
"She single-handedly saved the lives of many people," Breedlove said.
During the conversation, the student asked questions that alarmed Hudgens, Breedlove said at a news conference Thursday.
Hudgens sensed that something was wrong and asked the boy if he had a gun. He said he did and that he was holding it under his clothing. He said was having various problems, Breedlove said.
He told her he was going to kill teachers and a police officer, but not students. He said came to her because she would be the only one who could talk him out of it.
Breedlove had high praise for Hudgens, who has had training in de-escalating situations with students.
"She was an amazingly brave person to be in there that long with this young man," he said. "She did something even the most experienced law enforcement officer might not do.
"She's a hero in our community."
The teenager has been charged with possession of a weapon on school property and with threatening school employees.
He is being held in Williamson County Jail pending his next hearing, Breedlove said.
In a video statement released Thursday afternoon, Hudgens said Sycamore Middle has been her home for almost 19 years.
"The safety of our school is a responsibility that I take very seriously," Hudgens said.
"Yesterday, my previous training and experience granted me the opportunity to help a student in need while protecting our school family as well."
The sheriff declined to say how the student got the gun or what problems might have prompted his threats. The investigation is ongoing, he said.
The gun shown in a photo distributed by police is a Taurus Millennium 45-caliber, a small, light pistol with a polymer grip.
Sycamore Middle School and High School were placed on "lockout" status as a precautionary measure the day of the event.
The district has since resumed normal day-to-day operations, according to a school system news release.
The school district has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to weapons on campus, and it includes expulsion for not less than one year.
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