CORYDON, IN (WAVE) - A southern Indiana School Resource Officer who was injured on the job in September, returned to work on Monday.
Police say on September 28, 2018, Mike Leighty, 29, entered Corydon Elementary School during dismissal and asked for assistance from the Schoot Resource Officer. A staff member saw what looked like the butt of a gun and was able to get Leighty outside.
The resource officer on duty at the time of the incident at Corydon Elementary School was Corydon Police Officer Steven Duley.
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“I walked outside and yelled at him. When he turned around, I could see the butt of the handle of the handgun in his pocket," Duley said. "I yelled at him ‘Don’t reach for that gun!’ Instead, he started reaching for the gun. And he started trying to pull the gun, but he got it stuck in his pocket. He couldn’t get it out. I realized that and I put my weapon back in my holster and I tackled him and put him on the ground.”
The tackle took down Leighty, but left some damage to Officer Duley.
“I guess my age has gotten to me,” said Duley. “When I tackled him, I hurt my back... I had back surgery and now I’m going through therapy.”
Police determined the gun Leighty had was a pellet gun. He was arrested and charged with felony intimidation.
Now, four months later, Officer Duley says he’s glad to be back at work.
“It feels good. Kind of like being reborn. Kind of like 'Yeah, I’m ready to go now,” and the kids were happy to see me," Officer Duley said. “I was happy to see them. I had a lot of kids come up and hug me today. The teachers were happy to see me today. It was a positive feeling.”
In addition to the teachers, Corydon Elementary School’s principal Nissa Ellett was excited to have Duley back roaming the halls, keeping the children safe.
“We’re thrilled to have him back," said Ellett. "He’s very modest, but the kids missed him. They sent cards to him. Our school board recognized him, he’s been recognized by the town and received a letter from a state representative and just his bravery that he took on that day and helping keep our school safe and the kids are very excited that he’s returned.”
Despite facing a suspect with a gun, Officer Duley said he was trained and ready for the situation.
“I’ve been doing this for over 20 years," Officer Duley explained. "We have training every year. They always tell you ‘You train, train, train and when it comes time for you to do what you’re suppose to do, it’s automatic.’ And that’s what it was. I didn’t think about it and that’s what I did. I’ve had to pull my gun out several times on different occasions and I’ve had my share of fights. It wasn’t nothing new to me.”
Even though it wasn’t anything new to Officer Duley, students, staff, teachers, and principal Ellett are glad Officer Duley was there that day, as it could have turned out much worse.
“It’s really astonishing or amazing to us that we have such a dedicated school resource officer," Ellett said. "I mean, he was faced with a man with a gun and instead of hiding or fleeing or not coming, he ran directly towards the man. It’s very reassuring that we have someone who’s willing to put their own life on the line to secure our school and to keep our students safe.”
There are several other School Resource Officers assigned to Harrison County schools. Duley said any one of them would have done the same thing to protect the children at Corydon Elementary School.
“I’m just one of many SRO’s in our county, in our town," Duley said. "We all do the same job. I know all of them. All of them are like me, they’re going to put themselves in harms way to protect the kids.”