‘We’re prepared to lay down our lives to save yours’

Sarasota County Sheriff Kurt A. Hoffman reassured residents that his agency would respond differently from the way the public is now learning officers responded at the scene of the Uvalde school shooting.

“What we can do here locally as leaders is assure our community that we train for this, and we’re prepared to lay down our lives to save yours,” Hoffman said in a video statement released Friday.

School security: Manatee school’s armed guard gains attention following Uvalde, Texas school shooting

Police presence increased after Texas shooting: Sarasota, Manatee County Schools to increase police presence following Texas school shooting

Past coverage: Active shooter drills approved by Sarasota schools

May 27, 2022; Uvalde, TX, USA; Director of Department of Public Safety Steven McCraw arrives to give a press conference in front of Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on May 27, 2022. Mandatory Credit: Omar Ornelas-USA TODAY NETWORK

In a press conference Friday, Steven McCraw, director and colonel of the Texas Department of Public Safety, gave a new timeline and new details about the shooting that left 19 children and two teachers dead.

McCraw said that teachers and children repeatedly called 911 for help, while police waited outside in the hallway for more than 45 minutes. At one point 19 officers were in the hallway while the shooter was in the classroom, McCraw said. They did not storm in because the commander on the scene believed it had become a barricaded suspect situation rather than an active shooter, according to USA TODAY.

“We are learning that law enforcement apparently waited to engage the shooter, believing that they had a barricaded subject, which possibly led to additional lives being lost,” Hoffman said in the video. Hoffman said the agency has received many calls from parents asking how they would handle the situation.

‘Wrong decision’: Police should have confronted Texas school gunman sooner, official says

Shooting incident: Police arrest 13-year-old in connection with shooting incident at Palmetto High football game

The Sheriff’s Office routinely trains for active shooter situations, he said. They follow the single officer response model, where the first deputy on scene is mandated by policy to locate the suspect, follow the sound of gunfire and “meet deadly force with deadly force,” he said. “Period, end of story.”

“The situation in Texas is nothing short of a horrific tragedy. Nothing we can do will bring back those precious lives,” Hoffman said, but he tried to reassure local residents that Sarasota deputies are prepared to put themselves at risk to save lives.

Parents of the Uvalde students and the public have spoken out against the length of time it took for officers to act, while parents outside urged them to go in and stop the gunman or tried to rescue their children themselves.

Guidance to police agencies changed after the 1999 Columbine school shooting that killed 13. Instead of staging and waiting for tactical teams or backup, officers are now trained to confront a shooter quickly and try to subdue him to save more lives.

This article originally appeared on Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Texas shooting: Sarasota would handle shooter differently, sheriff says