According to a report from AL.com, a resident living close to Walnut Park Elementary School near Birmingham, Alabama, called police “reporting a suspicious man outside the school.” The man was “aggressively” trying to enter vehicles and multiple doorways. At the time, 34 children were inside the school for a summer literacy camp and went into lockdown, Gadsden City School Superintendent Tony Reddick told the outlet.
“A school resource officer on site responded, talked with the man and called for backup. When a second officer arrived, an altercation ensued,” AL.com reported. “The suspect was then fatally shot. Officials have not said if the man was armed.”
Dozens of officers from multiple agencies responded “within minutes,” the outlet added. One officer suffered minor injuries and was taken to the hospital. The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s State Bureau of Investigation is continuing to look into the incident.
The children were successfully taken from Walnut Park Elementary and transported to Gadsden City High School. A Thursday morning social media message from the Gadsden/Etowah County Emergency Management Agency informed residents of an “ongoing” police incident, asked them to avoid the area, and instructed parents to bring identification to the high school to pick up their children.
According to Reddick, the students had conducted an emergency drill earlier in the week and seemed to be unaware of the situation, ABC 33/40 News reported. “We’re just so thankful that none of this involved the children,” Reddick remarked. “Everyone followed the safety protocols that we’ve drilled on.”
The incident in Alabama comes weeks after a shooter killed 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. In addition to calls for heightened gun control, many officials have since proposed more school safety and preparedness initiatives.
“We sadly recognize we cannot do anything to bring back the precious lives that were taken; however, we must do everything in our power to prevent the same tragic ending from happening again,” Governor Greg Abbott (R-TX) wrote this week in a letter announcing the provision of Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) programs to all school districts across the state.
“An important part of these prevention efforts must focus on the proper training of law enforcement and school administrators on how to respond when they face the threat of an active shooter on their campus,” Abbott continued. “This vital training, which is delivered by veteran first responders with proven experience in active attack response and police training, will help law enforcement on school campuses better respond to these situations.”
ALERRT is meant to equip first responders with effective strategies to respond to active situations. The training has served more than 200,000 first responders across the nation. The program involves 16 hours of training in team movement, room entry techniques, shooting and moving, as well as post-engagement priorities. The training has been shown to shorten response times and strengthen law enforcement abilities.
Abbott has also requested the formation of special legislative committees to consider recommendations on school safety, mental health, social media, police training, firearm safety, and other policy priorities.