School resource office found dead

Thomas Smith

The death of a school resource officer Tuesday evening is being investigated as an intentional self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Boone County Sheriff’s deputies are investigating the death of Thomas E. Smith, 56, Thorntown, who was the Lebanon Central Elementary School SRO.

“He gave kids high fives every day,” Jen Todderud, Lebanon Schools public relations coordinator, said Wednesday. “He was always a friendly face.”

The school system notified Central Elementary staff Tuesday night and made them aware of resources to help themselves and students cope with the loss of Smith.

School officials met with mental health care providers and made a plan to help students, parents and staff.

Central Elementary parents received a bulletin about Smith’s death that included resources on how to talk with children about grief and similar situations, Todderud said. The school system also sent a notice to all Lebanon Schools parents.

Counselors are typically available in all Lebanon schools daily, but extra counselors were available at Central Wednesday and will be throughout the week and beyond, as need arises. Staff is also ready to speak with children in age-appropriate ways.

Students who were especially close to Smith were offered immediate help, Todderud said.

Another school resource officer worked in Central Elementary Wednesday, and there will still be an officer there daily, Todderud said.

Smith was a Frankfort Police officer for more than 30 years before his retirement. He joined the Lebanon Schools Police Department in June.

His body was found at 1145 W. Blubaugh Ave., near Thorntown, at about 4:45 p.m. and he was pronounced dead at the scene.