Every student at Gulf Highlands Elementary made a card with messages like “you saved us. Thank you.” and “thank you for keeping us safe you are a hero. Love Emily.”
They lined up Wednesday to shake hands with Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco and his team.
“These kids really touched our hearts today,” said Nocco.
The event comes two weeks after a shootout just steps away from the school. That’s when a man, investigators described as mentally ill, killed a family friend for hitting on his imaginary girlfriend and then started firing at deputies.
It was all way too close, especially for those in the art room at the front of the school.
“The children actually heard the gun shots as well as the teacher.”
The shooter, Brian Disario died in the standoff.
And while no one at Gulf Highlands was hurt, the whole incident put the school on a full lock down and forced them to go to their active threat plan.
That’s the new plan the school district put in place this year.
“Within weeks of being trained on this program, they implemented it.”
Principal Judy Cosh said everything worked perfectly as students barricaded doors like they saw in the training video. They also grabbed objects to throw at an attacker if anyone got in.
“I’ve been doing drills for emergencies many times for many years. But never would we hope that this would ever happen and be our reality,” said Cosh.
Sheriff Nocco said in the future he’d like to see even more evacuation locations put in place, and more escape routes planned.
“We're always going to improve. Every situation we are going to get better on,” said Nocco.
Meanwhile, along with cards, and flowers, some kids added hugs too.