A “suspicious person” was shot and killed by police after he attempted to enter a school in Alabama, law enforcement confirmed. An individual, identified by police as Robert Tyler White, 32, of Bunnlevel, in North Carolina, showed up at Walnut Park Elementary in Gadsden at about 9:30 a.m., authorities said, and was trying to enter some vehicles and buildings there, Etowah County Sheriff Jonathan Horton said.
A school resource officer who is also employed by Rainbow City police responded and called for help from additional law enforcement. As a result, a physical altercation ensued, police said, and the suspect was fatally shot. The resource officer, officials said, suffered minor injuries.
Police did not specify whether the man was armed.
Tony Reddick, the superintendent of Gadsden City Schools, said that he received an urgent call from the principal of Walnut Park, said report.
“I got a call from the principal who’s really distraught, and I really couldn’t make out what was happening,” he said. “But I knew it was something pretty bad.”
Reddick rushed to the school and when he got there, the man who had tried to enter the school was already lying on the ground after being shot by law enforcement.
Reddick said the school system has been vigilant in its preparation for events similar to this one. Both he and the school’s principal, he said, had just attended a seminar that featured training on school safety Monday.
Police had been advising members of the public to stay away from the area around Walnut Park Elementary in Gadsden after an incident Thursday morning. Photos had shown there was a heavy police presence in the area, but not much information was initially provided by law enforcement. In a brief statement, the Etowah County Sheriff’s Office stated that all children at the school were safe.
“All children at Walnut Park School in the City of Gadsden program will use side parking lot beside south 11th and board of education program will be bused to Gadsden City High School,” the statement said. “Please bring identification to pick up children.”
The same day, The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) issued a statement saying that at the request of the Gadsden Police Department, it was investigating what it described as an “officer-involved shooting.”
“An individual was attempting to make forcible entry into a marked Rainbow City patrol vehicle at which point a School Resource Officer (SRO) with the Rainbow City Police Department attempted to stop the subject,” ALEA’s statement said. “The subject resisted and attempted to take the officer’s firearm.”
The ALEA statement indicates that the subject “sustained a gunshot wound,” but the agency never made an explicit statement that an officer shot the man.
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey tweeted saying that the school’s police “acted immediately, the teachers inside the building followed safety protocols and all children present were kept out of harm’s way.”
“I commend everyone involved for acting quickly to protect these children,” she added.
Gadsden is roughly 100 miles northeast of Birmingham.