‘Potential intruder’ fatally shot by police outside Alabama elementary school, officials say

Alfredo Alonso Avila / EyeEm

(GADSDEN CITY, Al.) — A police officer shot and killed 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 school.

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 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.

ALEA identified the suspect as Robert Tyler White, 32, of Bunnlevel, North Carolina.

According to Horton, the doors to the school were locked after “everything nationally” — citing last month’s mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, where a gunman entered the building through an unlocked door.

The Etowah County Sheriff’s Office sent 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 relocated students to another location, authorities said.

ALEA said it will turn over the results of its investigation to the Etowah County District Attorney’s Office.

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