In Talladega, City Schools Superintendent Doug Campbell said, “I would like to say that our prayers go out to the families of everyone involved. We have been keeping our conditions locally under advisement, and I am comfortable saying that all the Talladega city schools are safe today.”
Talladega County School System spokeswoman Gail Jones said the situation was “heartbreaking,” but said she did not feel it would be appropriate to comment any further.
In Sylacauga, Police Chief Chris Carden said, “As I started my day off this morning, I began to hear the beginnings of the day-long reporting of the mass casualty active shooter situation in Connecticut. It reminds me of the Columbine shooting from 1999, all of us here at the station were piled up back in the detectives’ office watching it all unfold live on TV. The news from Connecticut is that the crime scene is secure at this point, and from what I understand they made entry upon arrival, which is exactly what active shooter training is all about.”
“After Columbine,” he continued, “agencies all across the country began active shooter training. We here at Sylacauga PD have trained with several local agencies in this discipline, which I can summarize basically as a ‘move to threat’ tactical advance. Based off of the news reports, it seems the officers in Connecticut advanced on their active shooter much the same way. I cannot even begin to imagine what they must have been going through as they made their entry. When we first began doing active shooter training, we used all of our local school buildings so our officers would be familiar with the floor plans.
“The relationship between the police chief and superintendent has always been top notch in Sylacauga. We have always worked well together and that relationship was in place long before I became chief. We are fortunate to have a school resource officer assigned to the School System. This resource benefits the Sylacauga community in its entirety. Having that open line of communication between a school system and the local law enforcement is so important.”
In Pell City, Assistant Schools Superintendent Michael Barber said, “When something happens to children, it affects the whole country. It’s hard to understand the why’s of it. Our hearts and our prayers go out to them, to those who experienced the loss of children and faculty members.”
Barber said tragedies like the Connecticut school shooting are hard to comprehend — the loss of life.
“You think about what would you do if it happened here,” he said. “Our School System has numerous safety plans in place. We try to anticipate any situation, whether it’s a natural disaster or a human-caused tragedy. We do practice drills at the schools, and our nurses and local law enforcement officers are part of these plans. The safety of our children comes first.”
Daily Home reporters Chris Norwood, Emily Adams and Elsie Hodnett contributed to this report.