A man who was “aggressively” trying to enter Walnut Park Elementary School in Gadsden, Alabama, was fatally shot by a school resource officer after the suspect reached for the officer’s gun Thursday morning, authorities said.
According to Gadsden City Schools Superintendent Tony Reddick, a “potential intruder” tried to open several doors at the school where a summer literacy program was being held for 34 children. He was unable to enter the school because all of the exterior doors were locked, Reddick said, according to U.S. News.
The school’s principal saw the attempted intruder and immediately put the school in lockdown before calling the school resource officer.
Etowah County Sheriff Jonathon Horton said the school resource officer – a police officer from Rainbow City – encountered the man. The suspect attempted to take the officer’s gun before he was fatally shot.
It is unclear if the man was armed. The Etowah County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to American Military News’ request for comment.
The Gadsden/Etowah County Emergency Management Agency said in a statement that all children at the school are safe, but advised the public to avoid the area of Walnut Park around the school due to “an ongoing Police incident.”
The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) told American Military News in a statement that the agency’s State Bureau of Investigation is investigating the officer-involved shooting.
The ALEA said the suspect attempted “to make forcible entry into a marked Rainbow City patrol vehicle” near the school. The school resource officer tried to stop the suspect, but he resisted and tried stealing the officer’s firearm.
“We’re just so thankful that none of this involved the children,” Reddick said, according to AL.com. “Everyone followed the safety protocols that we’ve drilled on.”
“At the end of the day, the good news is no one made it into the building, and the kids were safe,” Horton said.
The incident comes just two weeks after 18 children and two teachers were killed by a gunman at Robb Elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. Unclear details surrounding the deadly shooting have prompted an investigation into the police response.
This week, a teacher who was shot twice during the attack called the police “cowards” during an appearance on Good Morning America.
“They sit there and did nothing for our community,” Arnulfo Reyes said. “They took a long time to go in … I will never forgive them.”