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'We were prepared': Community leaders praise first responders, school security for quick response

Leaders say active shooter training that took place just a couple of months ago helped save many lives.

ST. LOUIS — Leaders across the community are praising police and school officers for their immediate response to the school shooting at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School, which took the life of one student and one teacher. 

Many of them said they prevented this tragedy from being much worse. 

City, police and school leaders emphasized that they were fully prepared for what took place on Monday, Oct. 24.

It's unfortunately a grim reality of the world we live in now, where everyone has to know exactly what to do when an active shooter is on a school campus.

Interim St. Louis Police Chief, Lt. Col. Michael Sack, said the number of officers nearby was critical to saving lives. 

"This could have been a horrific scene. It was not by the grace of God that the officers were as close as they were, and responded in the manner that they did," he said. 

Nearly 24 hours after a school shooting that will forever leave a mark on the St. Louis community, Mayor Tishaura Jones continued to share a constant message.

"I want to reiterate my sincerest appreciation for the police officers, the fire department, our school security, school staff, and others that responded quickly without hesitation," she said.

It's because of the frequency that mass shootings are happening across the country that Mayor Jones said everyone was ready for what took place on Monday morning.

"Trainings and active shooter drills are essential to ensuring that they responded as quickly as they did," she said.

Director of Safety and Security for St. Louis Public Schools, DeAndre Davis, said officers did just what they were taught, from an active shooter training that school officers did just a couple of months ago.

"Officers were aware of what happened, understood the magnitude of what was happening. We were prepared for what was happening," he said.

Sack added that every officer in his department goes through active shooter class yearly, which was the same class school officers took recently.

"Because of the training, they all knew what needed to be done. They created their teams, and they went in, and they took action," he said.

Not only were officers ready, but Davis praised the students, faculty and staff for how they handled this unthinkable situation.

"That collaboration worked, the drills worked, the kids worked. They did exactly what they were supposed to do. They barricaded those doors, they got away from those windows, and when it was time to evacuate, they did the best they could. They got out of that building," he said.

Lt. Col. Sack said officers actually sign up for the training randomly throughout the year, so when they're going through it, they sometimes don't know the officers they're training alongside. 

He said that's exactly what happened on Monday, since many of those officers hadn't worked together before, but they knew how to work as a team.

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