CUYAHOGA FALLS — School district officials were working on bringing more security infrastructure into the buildings prior to an incident at the high school that led to an 18-year-old man being charged with attempted use of an explosive device, according to the superintendent.
Allen M. Kenna was indicted Feb. 12 on federal charges alleging he attempted to use an explosive device at Cuyahoga Falls High School and that he made threats toward a Kansas elementary school.
Kenna was stopped after a school custodian saw him after hours on Jan. 6 walking through the high school videotaping the building on one of several visits to the school.
In a search of Kenna’s home, police seized materials federal officials said were sufficient to make an explosive device, including electronic devices, a box with Christmas lights, 9 volt batteries, electrical tape, matches, and road flares, firearm magazines, ammunition, and knives, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division.
Kenna was arrested and is being held in Summit County Jail. He was scheduled to be arraigned on Feb. 21.
Cuyahoga Falls City Schools District Superintendent Dr. Todd Nichols said some administrators met with building principals in August 2019 to identify "blind spots" in the buildings where more cameras could be installed.
"We were well in progress before Jan. 6 [on] increased cameras and surveillance at all buildings, including our operations center on Vincent Street," said Nichols. "Installation is taking place now."
The added cameras are intended to "track the movements of folks throughout the school building, at least in the hallways and corridors," said Nichols.
He noted the district also wants to install 65-inch monitors displaying the footage of the cameras in each building office.
"They’re going to [have] touch screens so you have the ability to [select] a particular camera and blow it up with high resolution and see exactly what’s going on," stated Nichols.
Nichols added that administrators are speaking with district staff and Board of Education members about after-school hours. He noted security issues and crisis procedures are often discussed in connection with high school events such as football and basketball games, as well as concerts. Nichols emphasized those types of discussions are ongoing.
"In terms of after school and practices and those kinds of things, we’re certainly having increased conversations about security around those times and that’s a tough one," said Nichols. "Those conversations are continuing."
Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.