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Texas police kill gunman after shots fired at summer camp

Police responded to a report of an armed man inside a fieldhouse with 150 children


Ken Kalthoff, NBC 5 via Twitter

By David Silva Ramirez
Fort Worth Star-Telegram

DUNCANVILLE, Texas — A man armed with a handgun was killed by police Monday morning after he fired shots inside the Duncanville Fieldhouse, where about 150 children were attending a summer camp, according to Duncanville police.

Police said no children, staff or officers were harmed.

At about 8:45 a.m., police received phone calls about a person armed with a gun who had fired shots in the fieldhouse, a city facility at 1700 S. Main St., Duncanville police said at a livestreamed news conference.

The summer camp at the fieldhouse, an indoor sports and fitness center, has a daily average attendance of about 250 children ages 4-14 years old. Campers were locked in rooms after the initial report of shots fired and later evacuated from the building, authorities said.

Officers arrived at the fieldhouse about two minutes after they were called, entered the building, found the armed suspect and confronted him, police said at a morning news conference. The gunman was shot by officers during an exchange of gunfire and later died at a hospital, police said.

In another news conference Monday afternoon, police said the man entered the building through the main lobby doors and that he first fired a shot after exchanging words with a staff member. Police have not commented on whether the man and staff member knew each or what was said between them.

The camp’s counselors followed their training and moved the children to safe areas and began locking the doors, police said. The suspect fired one shot from outside a locked classroom into the room, where children were present but not injured, police said.

The suspect then went to the gymnasium but didn’t fire any shots there until officers arrived, police said. Children were removed from the area before officers confronted the suspect in the gym and exchanged gunfire with him, killing him, according to the police statement.

Authorities have not publicly identified the suspect and on Monday afternoon referred questions about him to the Texas Rangers, citing the ongoing investigation. Police earlier said it was unclear whether the man was targeting anyone at the fieldhouse, or what led up to the incident, Star-Telegram media partner WFAA-TV reported.

Camp counselor Naomi Rodgers told KXAS-TV she was working with a group of about 40 children when they heard the first gunshot.

“We had to move them all across the room because the building is glass and we had to find a safe space,” Rodgers told KXAS. “The shooter actually came to our door ... and he said if we didn’t let him see who he wanted to see he was going to shoot the place up.”

Duncanville Mayor Barry Gordon told WFAA that police responded within two minutes and that within 10 minutes, they had shot and killed the suspect.

The officers recently underwent active shooter training, the mayor said.

“Our officers did not hesitate,” Gordon told WFAA. “They did what they were trained to do and saved lives.”

Tomisha Johnson, whose daughter is a staff member at the day camp, told KDFW-TV that camp counselors heard gunshots and immediately helped the kids take shelter in another part of the building.

“As a parent, that’s the worst call you want to hear, especially where your child is,” Johnson told KDFW. “It is getting to the point where this is like an everyday situation. We’re hearing so many active shootings, like every day. It’s ridiculous. I don’t know what is going to need to happen for this to stop. But all our babies was trying to do is have fun.”

The shooting occurred less than three weeks after an 18-year-old gunman killed 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24.

“We obviously understand what took place south of us,” Duncanville Assistant Chief of Police Matthew Stogner said at the afternoon news conference. “I can only talk about how we responded here, and we did an exceptional job.”

Police said the fieldhouse was cleared Monday morning, and parents could pick up children at the Duncanville Recreation Center at 201 James Collins Blvd.

Michael Strickland, whose grandchildren were at the summer camp, told WFAA that he saw news about the shooting on Facebook and rushed to the fieldhouse.

“This world we live in now, it’s unpredictable,” Strickland said. “There’s two forces, good and evil. Clearly it shows what side this incident is on.”

Duncanville is in south Dallas County, about 30 miles east of Fort Worth.

Police blocked off a black SUV in the fieldhouse parking lot with crime scene tape and were investigating the vehicle, video from the scene shows.

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