A police officer shot and killed a suspicious man who was attempting to enter an elementary school in Alabama on Thursday.
Etowah County Sheriff Jonathan Horton said during a news conference that the man was shot by the officer following an altercation, CNN reported.
The outlet added that at least 34 students were still inside the Walnut Park Elementary School when the man attempted to gain entry to the building, according to Gadsden City School Superintendent Tony Reddick.
CNN adds that the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) is currently investigating the incident.
The ALEA said in a press release that the man was spotted attempting to make a forcible entry into a marked Rainbow City police patrol vehicle near the school. A resource officer then made contact with the man and attempted to stop him from breaking into the vehicle, the press release stated.
An altercation ensued in which the individual attempted to take the officer’s firearm. The officer was able to call for backup and a responding officer shot the individual who was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the release.
No children at the school were hurt in the incident, Horton said.
Though the school year is over, during the summer, the school has a literacy camp for elementary students, Reddick said.
The district has always had a practice of locking all exterior and interior doors, Reddick said. Something he touted for helping keep the potential intruder out.
“He tried to open at least two doors leading into the school,” Reddick said.
“This is Gadsden. A small-knit community. You don’t think that something like this is going to happen at your school,” he added.
Horton went on to point out that the district had taken addition action to bolster security in the district following the recent shooting in Uvalde, Texas while going on to praise the school resource officer’s actions.
“Our schools, especially after … what’s happened in Texas, we have one of the largest school resource officers programs in Etowah County, preaching that these doors stay locked. That the individual was not able to make it inside the school,” he said.
“From the school resource officer’s standpoint — he did exactly what should be done. 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,” he added.
CNN noted that it wasn’t clear if the suspect was armed. The report also noted that the school resource officer was transported to a local hospital to be treated for minor injuries sustained during the altercation.
As for Uvalde, police there have come under fire for waiting more than an hour before entering Robb Elementary School as the 18-year-old shooter was killing his victims.
Angeli Rose Gomez said, “The police were doing nothing. They were just standing outside the fence. They weren’t going in there or running anywhere.”
She added that police cuffed her when she tried to go into the school to rescue her two sons; after they released her, she jumped a fence and sprinted into the school, returning with both of her boys minutes later.
Video posted to social media also showed how other parents were attempting to get the police to act and tried to also get inside the school themselves but police, many armed with similar weapons as the shooter, refused to act and instead kept parents out.