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Area school officials react to latest campus shooting

LOS ANGELES — Responding to the murder-suicide at a San Bernardino elementary school that also left an 8-year-old student dead, Los Angeles School Police Chief Steven Zipperman said April 10 it is impossible to make any campus 100 percent safe, but the district has extensive security plans and protocols aimed at preventing such tragedies.

“We have policy and procedure bulletins in place with regard to securing campuses during school hours, implementation of lockdowns and responding to various student and campus safety threats,” Zipperman said. “Included within these policies and safe school plans are procedures for responding to active shooters and other armed intruders on a school campus.

“While no educational institution or campus can ever be 100 percent safe from an intruder or other safety threat, maintaining vigilant planning, preparedness, response and recovery protocols can help prevent and mitigate tragedies,” he added.

A 53-year-old special needs teacher, Karen Elaine Smith, was killed at North Park Elementary School in San Bernardino by her estranged husband, who checked in as a visitor at the school’s office, saying he needed to drop something off for his wife, police said.

The man, 53-year-old Cedric Anderson, opened fire in the classroom, killing his wife, fatally injuring an 8-year-old boy and wounding a 9-year-old boy. Anderson then killed himself, police said.

School district officials in San Bernardino said Anderson followed all of the required protocols for visiting the campus by checking in and providing identification to school staff, who knew him and allowed him to go to the classroom, unaware he was carrying a gun.

In Culver City, school Superintendent Joshua Arnold posted a statement on the district’s website that said: “Any report of violence in schools is hard to understand. Especially for children.

“There is no excuse for violence on a school campus,” Arnold added. “And Culver City will continue to make student and staff safety our top priority above all else.”

The district posted links to articles that parents or teachers could share with students who were having difficulty dealing with the shootings.

“As our hearts go out to all the students, staff, and community members affected by [the] tragedy at North Park Elementary School, we also want to provide our teachers and families with tools and resources to help facilitate conversations after a school shooting and gauge or manage student distress.”

Zipperman said that as LAUSD officials “mourn and remember the victims” of the shooting, “we will continue to instill safety and vigilance in making our campuses as safe as possible.”

“The Los Angeles Unified School District deploys an average of 250 school police officers, school safety officers and other specialized units on campuses and in our safe passages zones during any given instructional day,” Zipperman said. “The Los Angeles School Police Department partners with local, state and federal agencies to identify best practices to keep our schools safe, which is part of the National Education Safety Initiative.”

“School campuses are sacred spaces where children should be free to learn, play and grow without threat of violence,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement released by his office. “Today’s shooting … is a reminder that deadly weapons can shatter that sense of security, mercilessly and without warning — leaving parents and educators struggling to address the questions, fears and anxieties that gun violence creates for our young people.”

City Council President Herb Wesson sent condolences via Twitter, writing, “Senseless violence like this is nothing less than a tragedy.”