GADSDEN, Ala. – A school resource officer at an Alabama elementary school fatally shot a “suspicious” man who was attempting to enter the campus and became involved in an altercation with officials, authorities said Thursday.
According to Etowah County Sheriff Jonathan Horton, a man “aggressively” attempted to gain entry to vehicles and the buildings at Walnut Park Elementary School in Gadsden at about 9:30 a.m. CDT, WIAT-TV reported.
Gadsden City School Superintendent Tony Reddick said there were 34 children at the school, which was conducting a summer literacy camp for elementary school-age children, AL.com reported. None of the children were injured, and Reddick told WAAY-TV that the children did not seem to be aware that an incident had occurred.
“It’s the kind of call you don’t want to get,” Reddick told WBMA-TV. “You definitely have concern about something potentially traumatic that happens.”
Reddick said that when the school’s principal saw the man attempting to enter the school, he called the school resource officer, who also worked for the Rainbow City Police Department. The officer called for backup after speaking with the man, according to WBMA. The school went into lockdown, following protocols, Reddick said.
“I got a call from the principal who’s really distraught, and I really couldn’t make out what was happening,” Reddick told WIAT. “But I knew it was something pretty bad.”
When a second officer arrived, an altercation ensued, according to the television station. The suspect was then fatally shot, and it was unclear whether the man was armed. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
The resource officer received minor injuries, AL.com reported.
Reddick said the children in the school were safely picked up after being moved to Gadsden City High School within 20 minutes of being taken from Walnut Park, the news organization reported.
“We’re just so thankful that none of this involved the children,” Reddick told AL.com. “Everyone followed the safety protocols that we’ve drilled on.”
The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s State Bureau of Investigation will lead the investigation of the incident.
“At the end of the day, the good news is no one made it into the building, and the kids were safe,” Horton told AL.com.
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