Police shot and killed a man at an Alabama elementary school on Thursday after he allegedly tried to take an officer’s gun and enter the building, ABC 33/40 reports.
The incident occurred in the morning, when a passerby noticed a man looking at vehicles and attempting to get into Walnut Park Elementary School in Gadsden and called the police.
The man, later identified as 32-year-old Robert Tyler White, was aggressively attempting to enter the facility through multiple doors, according to WVTM-TV.
Students and staff went into lockdown and a school resource officer was called.
“As best I know, there was a potential intruder. A gentleman who was coming around to several doors trying to get into the building. Our principal was alerted immediately and went around to make sure the doors were secure, which they already were,” Gadsden City Schools Superintendent Tony Reddick told ABC 33/40.
White allegedly tried to get into the officer’s marked patrol vehicle, and when the officer attempted to prevent that, White is said to have resisted and tried taking the officer’s gun.
Police then shot and killed White. It was not immediately clear whether the school resource officer or a different officer fired the shot.
The school resource officer was hospitalized with minor injuries, but none of the 34 children at the school were harmed.
The students reportedly seemed unaware that the incident occurred, according to the Gadsden Times. The students had been practicing safety measures throughout the week and may have believed that what happened Thursday was just another drill.
Authorities have not said why White was trying to get into the school, the newspaper reports.
“We put a lot into our schools in this county, and you hate to see anyone lose their life, but that’s what happens when people try to do things to hurt our kids. At least it ended in the front yard and everybody, the staff, and students are safe. The officers are safe,” Etowah County Sheriff Jonathon Horton told the television station.
Students were evacuated from the building and brought to a local high school, where their parents picked them up within 20 minutes, according to ABC 33/40.
“It’s the kind of call you don’t want to get,” Reddick told the television station. “‘We drilled out principals and administrators all year long about how to avoid situations like this. If there was ever an example of what the right thing to do was, our staff did that today.”
Neighbors who live near the school said they were concerned when authorities responded to the scene.
“All this right at your front door when you walk out of your house—what’s it coming to?” Allen Hill, who lives across the street from the school, told ABC 33/40.
He added: “With all these shootings across America. You know with people getting shot, little kids everywhere. I’m thinking maybe someone’s little kid ain’t even going to get to come home today. That’s what hit me. My heart dropped.”
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