- School resource officers confronted the shooter at a high school in Santa Fe, Texas, four minutes after gunfire was first reported and captured him after another 25 minutes, authorities said.
- The officers, particularly John Barnes, were praised as heroes for their quick response during the shooting on Friday.
- It’s unclear whether any of the 10 people killed in the shooting were hit by authorities engaging the shooter.
- Barnes remains in the hospital after sustaining massive blood loss from a bullet he took to his arm.
Two school resource officers have been hailed as heroes after they quickly confronted the gunman at a high school in Santa Fe, Texas, on Friday and kept him isolated until he eventually surrendered, the Galveston County sheriff said Monday.
The officers engaged with the shooter four minutes after the first gunshots were reported, then assumed positions in a hallway while the gunman was cornered in a classroom, Sheriff Henry Trochesset said at a news conference.
“The two officers that engaged that individual within four minutes, or approximately four minutes, they’re heroes,” Trochesset said. “They contained him in that one area, isolated to them, engaging with them, so he did no damage to other classes.”
What’s still unclear is whether any of the 10 people killed in the shooting were hit by crossfire between authorities and the shooter. Trochesset said that he didn’t believe any were shot by officers but that he couldn’t confirm until he received autopsy results.
“There were minimal shots fired, at least from us, from law enforcement,” Trochesset said. “But the individual was still trying to shoot us.”
One of the school resource officers, John Barnes, was critically injured in the shooting when a bullet hit his arm. Barnes was the first person to engage the shooter, said Dan Patrick, the Texas lieutenant governor.
After he was shot, Barnes lay bleeding on the floor and urged another officer to leave him behind and help evacuate the remaining students, Barnes’ stepfather, Ronald Hatchett, told The New York Times. The other officer returned shortly afterward and tied a tourniquet around Barnes’ arm.
“It was entirely within his character to do what he did,” Hatchett said of Barnes. “He was first through the door. He suffered for being first through the door.”
The gunman had planned to kill himself but ultimately “didn’t have the courage to commit the suicide” and surrendered to authorities, Gov. Greg Abbott said.
‘Every second means that someone else is going to die’
The shot to Barnes’ arm shattered his right elbow and drained him of massive amounts of blood, Hatchett said.
Barnes’ heart even stopped while he was being airlifted to the hospital, and again while he was in surgery, his stepfather said.
Doctors are unsure how his arm will be affected, and Barnes’ kidneys are “in peril,” Hatchett added. But over the weekend, doctors briefly paused some of Barnes’ sedatives so he could open his eyes, hold his wife’s hand, and hear his family members speak to him.
“Everybody said, ‘You’re a real hero, John – we’re so proud of what you’ve been doing,” Hatchett told The Times. “We told him we’re going to be here with you.”
Several law-enforcement officials and Texas lawmakers have heaped praise on the officers for their quick actions.
It’s in contrast with the shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, in February in which the armed school resource officer failed to confront the shooter and instead stood outside the building as 17 students and staff members were gunned down in the six-minute massacre.
That officer, Scot Peterson, resigned in disgrace and was vilified as a coward by many of the shooting survivors, families of the victims, and even the Broward County sheriff.
In the wake of the Santa Fe shooting, officials have sought to underscore the importance of confronting active shooters as quickly as possible.
“When you get these calls, every police officer, no matter where you are, has to immediately engage the active shooter, period,” Steven McCraw, the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, told reporters last Friday. “There’s no alternative. Because every second means that someone else is going to die.”
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