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Police fatally shoot ‘potential intruder’ at Alabama school

Alabama police shot and killed a “potential intruder” who tried to enter an elementary school where summer programs were being held on Thursday morning, officials said.

Robert White, 32, showed up to Walnut Park Elementary School and attempted to open several exterior doors, but they were all locked, Gadsden City Schools Superintendent Tony Reddick confirmed to reporters. The school principal noticed the “potential intruder” and alerted the school resource officer, Reddick said.

A school resource officer with the Rainbow City Police Department came outside to “engage the guy in conversation” before the interaction began to escalate, Etowah County Sheriff Jonathon Horton told ABC News.

The SRO then called for backup from the Gadsden Police Department. Responding officers found the SRO in a “physical altercation” with the suspect on the school’s lawn, the sheriff said. After multiple attempts to subdue the suspect, a Gadsden officer fatally shot the suspect, according to Horton.

Horton said he did not know whether the suspect was armed. The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, which is investigating the shooting, said in a press release that the subject allegedly tried to take the SRO’s gun.

ALEA did not say that the suspect tried to enter the school, but that he allegedly tried to “make forcible entry” into a Rainbow City patrol car. ABC News has asked the agency for clarity.

“The incident occurred near Walnut Park Elementary School in Gadsden; however, no children were involved or harmed over the course of the incident,” ALEA said in a statement.

All the students were in another part of the building from where the suspect was trying to enter, Reddick said. “The students didn’t have a clue,” Reddick was quoted as saying.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey commended the resource officer and school staff for their quick response to the situation. “When a situation ensued outside of Walnut Park School in Gadsden today, SROs immediately took action, faculty inside the building followed safety protocols and all children present were kept out of harm’s way,” she tweeted. “I commend all involved for acting quickly to protect these children.”

ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH 

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: CULLMAN TIMES

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