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Former principal, security director discuss response to Texas school shooting

Former Columbine High School principal Frank DeAngelis said he left a message with the principal of Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. — On a day like Tuesday, Frank DeAngelis is ready to reach out. 

"But when I reach out to whomever, whether it be the principal, superintendent, politicians down there, when I said, 'I know what you're feeling,' I really do, because we went through it," he said. 

If the former principal of Columbine High School isn't traveling to where these situations happen, he makes the call to reach out.

"But what I tell them, this isn't going to be a one-time phone call," he said. "It's going to continue. And what they're feeling today is going to look differently of what they're looking a month from now, two months from now, three months from now. And as I stated time and time again, it's a marathon, not a sprint."

DeAngelis said he has left a message with the principal of Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, where a gunman killed at least 19 children and two adults on Tuesday.

RELATED: Gunman kills at least 19 children at Texas elementary school

“They’re all of our kids. It doesn’t matter whether they live in Texas, Colorado. They’re all of our kids. These senseless deaths just need to stop," he said. “You know, the thing that really feels important is I was asked early on is, 'what are you gonna do?' I said, 'What are we gonna do?' because they’re all of our kids and we need to step up as a society and say enough is enough and we got to stop this.”

In Jefferson County, the Frank DeAngelis Center for Community Safety was established to train school districts and first responders in handling situations like school shootings. 

"It's a tough day. It's a really tough day," said John McDonald, Executive Director of Safety and Security for Jeffco Public Schools. "That's why we train and practice and invest so much, because if it's a given day, time matters and seconds count what you're prepared for and what you can do and how you respond."

To date, he estimates around 25 districts have trained at the center, along with more than 90 first responder agencies.

"It's a place where we can have a conversation about the tactics and what we're trying to do. And how do you stop the bleeding and save lives?" he said. 

He said from his perspective on the situation in Texas, the next 48 to 72 hours will be crucial in getting counseling services to the kids and others that are impacted by the shooting.

Credit: Alex Castillo
John McDonald, Executive Director of Safety and Security for Jeffco Public Schools.

"You have a finite amount of time to win back your community, but winning back your community means how do you get your kids in a place where they can get through the summer and find a path back to school and find that feeling of safety again?" McDonald said. 

However, he also said the main message to Texans should be to allow time to grieve. 

"...and give each other grace as you work through this, because everybody is going to be in a different place. And take a moment to breathe, because you're going to find that in the course of the next week your world changed and it will never be the same," he said.

Both DeAngelis and McDonald say they will go down to Uvalde if needed, but they also want to respect the school's space as seemingly many people are reaching out to help.

RELATED: Colorado leaders react after 19 children killed at Texas elementary school


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