Ridgeview Shooting: What Happened

Parents wait at the Circle K on Hill Road in the hopes of being reunited with their children attending Ridgeview STEM Junior High School. Photo by Theresa Garee

February 6, 2023
By Rachel Scofield

On the morning of February 2, staff at Ridgeview STEM Junior High School met with 40-year-old Steven Rawlins, his wife and his stepdaughter to discuss a school-related issue that the girl was having.  During the meeting, the discussion took a turn.

“A serious criminal offense allegation was made that dictated the school contact our agency immediately,” Pickerington Police Chief Tod Cheney said.

A school resource officer and a detective were dispatched to the junior high.

The detective arrived at the school and entered an administrative office where the stepfather was seated. After a 40-45 second conversation, Rawlins drew a small pistol and fired a single shot.

“Details are not being made available yet as the investigation is on-going, but I can say he shot himself above the shoulders and died either instantly or extremely quick,” Cheney said.

The detective and Rawlins were the only ones in the room at the time, but students and teachers in several areas of the building including classrooms heard the gun shot.

The school was immediately placed into lockdown and secured by arriving officers.

“Students were told they were safe very shortly after the scene was secured,” Cheney said.

An officer from the Ohio State Highway Patrol blocks traffic from entering Hill Road South at Columbus Street. Photo by Theresa Garee

No students, faculty, or officers were injured. Students were evacuated to Pickerington High School Central to be united with their parents.

The Fairfield County Coroner pronounced Rawlins dead at the scene.

At the time this article was published, the police could not divulge the nature of Rawlins’ potential crime, nor could they disclose the brief conversation Rawlins had with the detective.

“Speaking in generalities, officers or detectives may ask basic questions such as contact information, ‘please leave the property’, ‘please come to the police station’, ‘is your student in danger?’, ‘this is why we are here’, or any number of very basic statements or questions,” the department stated on Facebook.

Buses arrive to transport the Ridgeview students to the Field House at Central. Photo by Theresa Garee

Cheney provided the following timeline:

At approximately 9:55 a.m. on February 2nd, Steven Rawlins, 40-year-old male from Pickerington, died as the result of a self-inflicted gunshot while inside of Pickerington Ridgeview Junior High School. The investigation is on-going.

9:55 a.m. – School Resource Officer radios “shot fired” inside the Junior High and orders school lockdown.

+34 seconds – Junior High is on full lockdown.

The pickup line along Pickerington Road extended into Pickerington Village. One mother said that she waited for two hours. The district called the parents of each Ridgeview student to determine who was being picked up and who was to ride the bus home. Photo by Theresa Garee

+1 minute 36 seconds-Additional Officer on scene.

+1 minute 57 seconds-Additional Officer on scene.

+2 minutes 54 seconds-Additional Officer on scene.

+3 minutes 02 seconds-Additional Officer on scene.

+4 minutes 07 seconds- First supervisor on scene.

+6 minutes 42 seconds- A total of 13 officers are on scene.

+1 hour 03 minutes – Coroner arrives and processes the scene.

+1 hour 26 minutes – Last bus evacuating students leaves Junior High for Central High School.

Once again, we would like to thank the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office, Ohio State Highway Patrol, and the Violet Township Fire Department for their help and assistance.