Robert Tyler White killed in front of Alabama elementary school

The scene in front of an elementary school in Alabama

A man in the city of Gadsden, Alabama, was shot dead by law enforcement Thursday morning after allegedly attempting to enter an elementary school in a manner officials described as “suspicious.”

According to the Etowah County Sheriff Jonathan Hortonthe man identified as 32-year-old Robert Tyler White of Bunnlevel, North Carolina was killed after an altercation with a school resource official after being caught trying to “force entry” into Walnut Park Elementary School, Columbus, Georgia. ABC affiliate WTVM reports.

Horton alleges that around 9:30 a.m. a concerned citizen called 911 over the efforts of the white people. In addition to attempting to gain access to the school, the man is said to have attempted to break into vehicles in the school’s parking lot. The school’s resource officer investigated the call, the sheriff said, and a fight ensued.

The TV station, citing the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, reported that the man tried to take the officer’s gun during the fight. Police could not say whether the man was armed.

According to, the school’s resource officer requested and quickly received reinforcements. A second officer arrived and an altercation reportedly ensued.

In the end, White was killed and the officer injured.

“I got a call from the Headmaster who is very distressed and I really couldn’t understand what was going on,” Headmasters at Gadsden City Schools Tony Reddick said Huntsville, Ala. CBS affiliate WHNT. “But I knew it was something pretty bad.”

Reddick went on to describe the man as an “alleged potential intruder” who “aggressively” attempted to enter school doors.

The superintendent told the TV station that the suspected intruder was already on the ground when he arrived at the school, but he refused to say if he knew the man was dead.

“That’s the kind of call you don’t want to receive,” Reddick added in a comment to ABC affiliate WBMA in Birmingham, Alabama. “You definitely have concerns about something potentially traumatic that’s happening.”

The superintendent said he was told by the headmaster that the man had tried several doors. When the principal saw this behavior, Reddick said the school went into lockdown mode.

“At the end of the day, the good news is that no one made it into the building and the children were safe,” Horton told

Children were in school to attend a summer literacy camp.

The police advised the population to avoid the area as soon as they were aware of the situation. Dozens of officers and emergency vehicles from several different agencies eventually rushed to the scene of the shooting.

A first warning from ECSO on Facebook reads:

Please avoid Walnut Park around the school. There is an ongoing police incident. All the children in the school are safe. Please avoid the area and further information will be provided if necessary.

All Walnut Park School children in the City of Gadsden program use the side car park off South 11th and the Board of Education program is taken to Gadsden City High School by bus. Please bring ID to pick up children.

[image via screengrab/WBRC]

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James Brien

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