Police Kill ‘Potential Intruder’ Near Alabama Elementary School

National news reports that a man who tried entering a Gadsden, Ala., elementary school while a summer program was in session was shot and killed by police on Thursday morning.

The “potential intruder” tried entering Walnut Park Elementary School through several exterior doors, which were all locked, said Gadsden City Schools Superintendent Tony Reddick. A summer literacy program for 34 students was in progress. The principal contacted the school resource officer when she became aware of the situation, said Reddick.

According to a statement from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, the resource officer came upon a person trying to break into a marked police car near the school. Other officers from the Gadsden Police Department showed up to assist. The person resisted, attempted to take the resource officer’s gun and was shot to death, said the agency. The agency did not comment on how many shots were fired or who fired them.

Reddick said that the school resource officer suffered minor injuries, but that no students were hurt and most were unaware that anything had happened.

The deceased has been identified as Robert Tyler White, 32, according to Reddick. He said that officials are currently investigating details like whether White was armed, why he was near the school, and why he was attempting to enter a patrol car.

“Our primary concern was just making sure that someone who wasn’t authorized to be in our building does not enter and our kids are safe,” said Reddick.

In a Tweet, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said that school police “immediately took action, faculty inside the building followed safety protocols and all children present were kept out of harm’s way. I commend all involved for acting quickly to protect these children.”

“From the school resource officer’s standpoint—he did exactly what should be done,” said Etowah County Sheriff Jonathan Horton in a news conference. “He went straight to the threat, he confronted it and he dealt with it. It ended in, unfortunately, the death of the suspect, but that’s the safest alternative. To keep that threat out of that school.”

About the Author

Matt Jones is senior editor of Spaces4Learning and Campus Security and Life Safety. He can be reached at MJones@1105media.com

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