Officials say it’s ‘hard to be prepared for the unknown’ when it comes to school shootings

This story and the two interactive maps are based on reporting by high school students in an Upward Bound multi-media journalism course at Tarleton State University.  Contributors include Alexis Argott of Iredell, Marivy Burciaga of Lingleville, Madeline Carrizales of Lingleville, Laura Castro of Stpehenville, Kaelyn Clark of Walnut Springs, Kayla Derovineau of Lingleville, Dalia Felipe of Dublin, Claudia Landa of Stephenville, Felisa Martinez of Dublin, Caitlin Moyer of Dublin and Lindsey Sams of Santo.

Newtown, Littleton, Stockton and Austin – cities dotting the bloody map of gun violence on public school and college campuses across the United States.

But what about Dublin, Weatherford and Stephenville? Could the tragedies that happened elsewhere also happen here?

Law enforcement officials in the Cross Timbers region say they are prepared for the worst – but acknowledge it’s virtually impossible to guarantee the safety of every child and teacher in every school.

“The sad thing is, it’s very hard to be prepared for the unknown,” said Mike Jurney, president of the Dublin ISD school board.

Weatherford Police Chief Mike Manning urges school officials to closely control who goes in and out of their campuses and encourages the use of surveillance cameras. But he also said “not a lot can be done to prevent” shootings without turning schools into armed encampment.

Thomas Corcoran, the principal at Glen Rose High School, said his students practice lock down drills to help protect them in case of a campus emergency. Even so, he said,  “As much as you try to protect kids, bad things will happen.”

Alvin Alcon, Tarleton’s acting police chief, said his officers have participated in Active Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training, known as ALERRT. The program, based at Texas State University in San Marcus, was created in 2002 following the shooting at Columbine High School. The program prepares first responders in what it calls “dynamic, force-on-force scenario-based training.” Alcon said Tarleton has “embraced” the ALERRT program.

Janice Vaughn, the vice principal at Stephenville High School, like officials elsewhere in the Cross Timbers, said, “We do training once a month,” but said it wasn’t a good idea to publicly discuss those drills in detail.

“If there were to be a shooting, which hopefully there’s not, we do not want the shooter to know what procedures we will be following,” Vaughn said.

Donald Proctor, the agriculture teacher at Lingleville High School, said, “We don’t worry about it as much as bigger schools do.” But he also acknowledges that some things are beyond anyone’s control.

“We can’t stop somebody if they are determined,” he said. He also urges students and employees to “pay attention to what’s around you and the people around you.”

Students who worked on this story also mapped the location and information about some of the deadliest shootings on college and school campuses. To see the maps go to the Texan News homepage or here.


Featured image courtesy of Associated Press.




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