As a 25-year veteran teacher and coach, Bob Kuba is always ready for the unexpected. Police and school administrators say his cool demeanor likely prevented a tragedy.
On Wednesday afternoon, a 15-year-old student brought a very large object covered in a blanket into Kuba’s earth science class at Indian River High School in northern New York and said he wanted to show them a science experiment. When the class was coming to a close, the student removed the blanket, revealing a gun case with a rifle inside.
Kuba reacted in a flash.
“When he opened the case, I grabbed the rifle before he could,” Kuba said on Thursday. “He offered no resistance at all. I had the gun in one hand and him in the other.”
The school went into lockdown.
“The class actually was surprised, but at no time did I ever feel threatened, and neither did the class,” Kuba said. “You don’t know what’s going to happen, but it worked out fine.”
Jefferson County Sheriff John Burns said that the student had “a very detailed plan,” but he would not reveal what it was.
Officials credited Kuba for stopping a potential shooting at the high school in the town of Philadelphia, 140 miles northwest of Albany.
“He’s an absolutely outstanding professional,” school Superintendent James Kettrick said. “His actions were decisive and contributed greatly to averting what could have been a tragedy.”
The student was taken into custody. Police aren’t releasing his name and said he hadn’t been charged as of Thursday morning.
Kuba said school officials are always on the lookout for bullying, but “I never saw this young man being bullied.”
He said he met with the class Thursday morning. “They seemed fine, but I’m sure some are still hurting inside,” he said. “Some were concerned and wanted to make sure the kid was OK.”
Kuba has three children, including one who is a student at the high school. He said previous school shootings had prompted discussions in the school district.
“We talked about these things after Columbine,” said Kuba, who coaches basketball and track. “But, unfortunately, you don’t know what you’re going to do until you’re put in that situation. To be honest, I didn’t have time to think.
“Once it was done, I had a chance to think about it. I’m just thankful the gun wasn’t fired. I’m very thankful.”