Former Florida law enforcement agent discusses response to school shootings

Professor at Florida Gulf Coast University speaks to News 6 about Uvalde shooting

An expert breaks down how law enforcement might respond in the event of a school shooting, like the one at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

Following the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas that left 19 students and two adults dead, News 6 reached out to a professor at Florida Gulf Coast University for information on how law enforcement might handle a school shooting.

David Thomas, a man who spent 20 years with five different police agencies from Michigan to Florida before becoming a professor at FGCU, walked News 6 through what such a response might look like.

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“It’s all a coordinated effort, it looks like, ‘Oh my God everybody’s here’ — and they are — but I would tell you that probably the local and state agencies were the first on the scene. They all have the ability to talk to each other via radio,” said Thomas.

Thomas said in a school shooting situation, dispatch acts as the command center. He added that radio is key when it comes to sharing information with all of the responding agencies.

“In this case, they were able to isolate him into a classroom, and they also surrounded the school and went into each, and they broke the windows out to get the kids out,” Thomas said.

Thomas told News 6 the moments after neutralizing the suspect, when investigators are working to collect evidence, can be incredibly hard and traumatic.

He said, “The reality is that it doesn’t hit you until at night when you go home, and you sit and you reflect, and so then there’s this trauma that happens when you reflect on that scene.”

About the Author:

Lauren Cervantes was born and raised in the Midwest but calls Florida her second home. She joined News 6 in August 2019 as a reporter.