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"Suspicious person" shot and killed by school resource officer outside elementary school

Charlie T Waite

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A man was shot and killed by a police officer serving as a school resource officer in Gadsden, Alabama on Thursday after allegedly attacking the officer in the school’s parking lot.

We don’t have a lot of information yet, but according to initial reports the man was first spotted acting suspiciously  outside the school building.

Etowah County Sheriff Jonathon Horton tells The Gadsden Times there was a report of someone trying to get into either Walnut Park Elementary School or vehicles outside the building on Thursday morning.

The city runs summer programs for children at the school. Horton says a police officer working as a school resource officer encountered the person, got involved in an altercation and called for backup.

Once additional officers arrived on scene the suspect was shot and killed, with the original officer reported to have suffered minor injuries.

The Gadsden-Etowah County Emergency Management Agency advised people in Facebook posts to avoid the area because of an “ongoing police incident.”

All children at the school were reported safe. According to Gadsden City Schools Superintendent Tony Reddick, children in the system’s program were to be bused to Gadsden City High School. Parents were asked to bring identification when picking up children.

Summer school programs are being run out of the elementary school, which means that there were dozens of children and staff inside the building at the time, but it’s unclear at this point whether the individual who was shot and killed by the school resource officer was specifically targeting the building or had any weapons on him. Initial reports indicate the suspect did repeatedly try to enter the building, however the doors were all locked.

Gadsden City School Superintendent Tony Reddick said 34 children were in the school at the time of the incident.

There were reports of a suspicious person at the school trying to get into vehicles and buildings. Reddick said the person “aggressively” tried to open several door ways. The school went into lockdown, following protocols, Reddick said. It’s unclear what touched off the incident.

“We’re just so thankful that none of this involved the children,” Reddick said. “Everyone followed the safety protocols that we’ve drilled on.”

That makes a difference, as did the fact that a school resource officer was on campus and able to respond right away. In my recent conversation with Dr. J. Eric Dietz of Purdue University’s Homeland Security Institute, he told Bearing Arms that according to his research, the presence of an SRO who can engage an active shooter reduces casualties by 70%, while adding a few armed staff members who can shelter in place with students can reduce casualties by more than 80%.

Again, at this point we don’t know what the suspect’s motivations were, and it may be some time before we learn any more details given that he’s not able to be interviewed by investigators. It could be that he was a moron looking to steal items from unlocked cars or from the school itself, but an elementary school parking lot is a particularly idiotic place to engage in auto burglary right now.

We’ll keep our eyes out for any new information or developments and pass them on as they become available, but in the meantime we can all be thankful that none of the students or staff inside the building were harmed.

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This is how it should work.  Armed protection for the students, teachers, and staff of our schools is a big part of what is needed for the security of our children.


Random daily checks by patrolling law enforcement that include walk-throughs and allowing teachers and staff that are willing to be vetted and take training and responsibility to be armed on school grounds and in classrooms during school activities is the next step that should be taken.


Those checks by law enforcement should include visits by EVERY branch!! State troopers, city, county, fish and game, and any other agency that passes by. Even if it’s only a drive through the parking lot or a turn around the grounds, that random presence offers greater protection for our schools and all who attend.

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5 hours ago, Charlie T Waite said:

It could be that he was a moron looking to steal items from unlocked cars or from the school itself, but an elementary school parking lot is a particularly idiotic place to engage in auto burglary right now.

Actually it is probably the best place to find a gun in some school teachers car. They aren't allowed to carry them into the school so the best they can do is have one in the car. I know a lot of people who have to do this. In Tennessee lots of guns are stolen from vehicles, because the owner isn't allowed to carry it into the "gun free zone" they are going to. I guarantee lots of teachers want to protect their students at times like this.

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