Gregory Henry, the principal of Sierra Pacific High School in Hanford, was found dead in his pickup from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, the Kings County Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday.
About 2:30 p.m. Monday, the Sheriff’s Office broadcast to law enforcement to be on the lookout for Henry, 51, because he was thought to be suicidal.
Hanford police traced Henry’s cellphone to the area of 14th Avenue and Elder Avenue, a farming area northwest of Hanford.
Police found Henry’s Chevrolet pickup about 200 feet east of 14th Avenue along a dirt road. He was found dead inside the pickup.
The Sheriff’s Office is handling the investigation and an autopsy is planned.
Hanford Joint Union High School District Superintendent Bill Fishbough issued a statement Tuesday: “We are shocked and saddened by Mr. Henry’s death and our thoughts are with his family at this very difficult time.”
Henry’s family was in seclusion. Through their pastor, the family declined a request for an interview.
Henry did not leave a note behind, said Assistant Kings County Sheriff Dave Putnam. Rather, Putnam said Henry texted a message to his wife that said he did not want to put her or their children through a personnel investigation and wanted to say goodbye. Putnam did not elaborate.
Henry was a math teacher at Hanford West High School from 1999 through 2004 and assistant principal of Sierra Pacific for the 2014-15 school year. He became principal at Sierra Pacific in July 2015.
He also was the principal of Pioneer Middle School in Hanford from 2004 to 2014.
According to Henry’s LinkedIn page, he earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Fresno Pacific University, and a master’s in educational leadership and administration from Chapman University.
At Sierra Pacific on Tuesday, the mood on campus was somber, students said. Counseling services were being made available for students and staff, the district said.
“Everyone is real quiet. No one is talking in the hallways,” said junior Destinee Garivay, 16. “He was always very nice. He took time to get to know every student.”
Students wore pink in remembrance of Henry, who was said to wear a pink shirt to school at least once a week.
“He was so great, so nice,” said junior Dakota Parker, 16 She wore a pink wristband and attached a pink ribbon to her backpack.
“He gave us advice when we needed to hear it,” she said. “He was always happy, always smiling. Everyone was close to him – everyone. I’m going to miss him. We all are.”
Some students wrote messages on a poster at Henry’s office, and photos and roses were being put there, students said.
“He was really passionate about education,” said junior Meghan Verhuel, 16. “He always said hi and asked me how my day was.”
A vigil is being organized for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Hanford West.