More details were released Thursday afternoon after a deadly officer-involved shooting outside of Walnut Park Elementary School, in Gadsden. The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) said Robert Tyler White, 32, who lived in the Gadsden area but was originally from Bunnlevel, North Carolina, was the man that resisted police and tried to take an officer's firearm. White was shot and killed at the scene.
According to Etowah County Sheriff Jonathon Horton, a police officer was also injured. ALEA said the incident happened Thursday morning when White tried to make forcible entry into a Rainbow City patrol vehicle. He was reported by a local to the school resource officer.
Though it was outside of the regular school year, some children were in the school, participating in Lit Camp, a summer school program meant to help meet the demands of the Alabama Literacy Act. No children were injured.
Gadsden City Schools Superintendent Tony Reddick said the intruder was exhibiting aggressive behavior and the school's principal reacted fast. Reddick told 1819 News that the man tried to enter the school as well.
"He had no business trying to get inside the building, so she [the principal] immediately called for the kids to be locked down, and she called the SRO, from what I understand," Reddick said.
The school resource officer (SRO), a police officer with the Rainbow City Police Department, confronted White outside and engaged in a physical altercation. When the man tried to grab an officer's gun, shots were fired, ending the altercation.
“Everybody was safe,” Reddick said. “That’s the most important part.”
“At the end of the day, the good news is, no one made it into the school,” Hornton said. “The kids were safe. The city of Gadsden Police Department [and] the school board did a great job of relocating the kids to a safe area where they could be released to go home.”
Reddick congratulated the school’s ability to follow safety measures and said because of the deadly Uvalde, Texas shooting, the school system had already been on high alert.
“One of the things that concerned us in regards to the situation in Texas was, I think it was reported that maybe someone had gone into a building and left the door open," said Reddick. "So, we’ve been very active about that. Our doors are locked. Anyone who does not have a pass… they don’t get in the building. We have cameras, so we can see who’s at the door. They have to be buzzed in or let in.”
“From the school resource officer’s standpoint, he did exactly what should be done,” said Hornton. “He went straight to the threat. He confronted it, and he dealt with it, and it ended in, unfortunately, the death of the suspect, but that’s the safest alternative, to keep that threat out of that school.”
ALEA is continuing the investigation since it is believed to be an officer-involved shooting. Once the investigation is complete, the findings will be turned over to the Etowah County District Attorney’s Office.
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