Was Sparks Middle School Prepared for the Worst?


SPARKS, Nev. -- It's natural to think "this could never happen here." Schools prepare all year round for these types of incidents happening during classtime, but today's incident was before school as kids were arriving. Was Sparks Middle School ready for this type of much different situation? Could something have been done differently?

It's difficult to say what could have been done differently this early on, but Washoe County School District Superintendent, Pedro Martinez says it was the quick response from local law enforcement and staff members that prevented the situation from any getting worse.

"This is a difficult time for our community. It's going to take us a while to get through this, but we want to make sure that our children have the support they need," Martinez said.

It's a deadly situation that schools prepare for before students come back for the summer and during the school year.

"I'm confident the staff had been trained, but again, this kind of a tragedy is not something you can prepare well for," Paul LaMarca, chief school performance officer said.

LaMarca says it was a unique situation because it happened right before class started, which means most of the students were outside.

"That was a complex situation so we did have staff that went outside brought students inside to get them secure as soon as possible," he added.

Once the shooting occurred, LaMarca says the staff acted quickly, made calls to the police and the principle sent lockdown alerts to all of the staff.

"The teachers did an amazing job of making sure the students were safe, that was bringing students into the school and getting them secure until they were able to be evacuated before they went over to Grisley Elementary School."

The students were then bussed to Sparks High School, where they were reunited with their family. LaMarca says he's confident all protocols were followed.

"It's hard to say what you could do different," he said. "What I can promise you is that we will take a close look at what was done, so that if an unfortunate situation were to reoccur, we would be that much more prepared."

The shooting is still under investigation, but he adds that there was a small debriefing after the shooting with all agencies including Sparks Police Department and School Police, and they agreed that everything was well organized. Martinez wants to point out that law enforcement was at the school three minutes after the call was made.


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