LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck says the Los Angeles Police Department has increased patrols at all local schools for the remainder of the day after 28 people, including 20 children, were killed when a gunman opened fire at a Connecticut elementary school.
Officials said there was no evidence of any threat to Southland schools, but the patrols were expected to continue when students return from the holiday break on Jan. 7.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families in Connecticut and all who are affected by this unspeakable act,” Beck said. “The LAPD is totally committed to work with our LAUSD and private school partners to ensure that our students and staff are safe.”
Parents and officials from school districts across Southern California are mourning the loss of 20 children and eight adults, who were pronounced dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., after gunfire erupted inside the school around 9:40 a.m., according to State Police Lt. Paul Vance.
Authorities said the killer, who was reportedly armed with two handguns, committed suicide. Another person was found dead at a secondary crime scene.
LAUSD Police Chief Steve Zipperman said at a news conference Friday that all of the district’s schools are closed off to public access, but that nothing is guaranteed.
“I think we all understand that we do whatever we can possible to minimize the risk of student safety. We can never guarantee absolute safety to anyone — we all know that,” Zipperman said.
“We sure have taken some great measures…to minimize anything that may happen. Who’s to say that someone, if they want to get on the campus and they want to jump a fence, they’re going to do it. But, we believe, based on the officers that we have patrolling, that what we have available on the school campuses on a daily basis, our eyes and ears that are out there, besides the school police department, we get notified right away,” Zipperman said.
LAPD media relations head Cmdr. Andrew Smith said they send out SMART teams, a unit comprised of an officer and a mental health clinician, called to situations where someone involved is suspected of having a mental illness. They perform assessments and try to prevent the scene from escalating.
“Our goal is stop those people from going over the edge and doing something tragic like this,” Smith said.
KNX 1070′s John Brooks reports the shooting left parents shaken at Castelar Elementary on Yale Street in downtown Los Angeles.
“It’s sad that people do that to anybody, let alone children…it’s crazy,” said one mom. “Sickening, too.”
Officials at Burbank Unified and other school districts began coordinating efforts to ensure that local campuses are protected from being soft targets of mass shootings, KNX 1070′s Brian Ping reported.
“Anybody’s a target, I think,” Burbank Unified Superintendent Dr. Jan Britz said. “We see it in colleges, we see it at the elementary school, we see it outside of schools, we just saw it at a mall.”
Britz added that her office has also been in contact with district officials to review emergency preparedness plans in the event of a similar attack.
“Safety is a priority for any school…just to really be vigilant and trying to review our disaster and emergency plans at our next principals’ meeting,” she said.
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