(GADSDEN CITY, Al.) — A police officer fatally shot a man who allegedly tried to enter an elementary school in northeast Alabama Thursday morning, authorities said.
Gadsden City Schools Superintendent Tony Reddick told reporters that a ‘potential intruder’ tried to open several doors at Walnut Park Elementary School, which had students and staff inside for summer courses.
A Rainbow City Police Department school resource officer came out to “engage the guy in conversation” before the interaction began to escalate, Etowah County Sheriff Jonathon Horton told ABC. News.
The SRO called for the backup of the Gadsden Police Department. Responding officers found the ORS in a “physical altercation” with the suspect on the school lawn, the sheriff said. After several attempts to subdue the suspect, an officer in Gadsden shot the suspect, according to Horton.
Horton said he didn’t know if the suspect was armed. The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, which is investigating the shooting, said in a news release that the subject allegedly attempted to take the weapon from the ORS.
ALEA did not say the suspect attempted to enter the school, but that he allegedly tried to “force enter” in a Rainbow City patrol car. ABC News asked the agency for clarification.
“The incident occurred near Walnut Park Elementary School in Gadsden; however, no children were involved or injured during the incident,” ALEA said in a statement.
ALEA identified the suspect as Robert Tyler White, 32, of Bunnlevel, North Carolina.
According to Horton, the school’s doors were locked after ‘everything nationwide’ – citing last month’s mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, where a gunman entered the building through a door not locked.
The Etowah County Sheriff’s Office sent out an alert shortly after 10 a.m. urging people to avoid the area around the school due to an “ongoing police incident”.
The suspect never entered the school and police moved the students to another location, authorities said.
ALEA said it would turn over the results of its investigation to the Etowah County District Attorney’s Office.
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