GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - The horrific shooting at a Newtown, Connecticut elementary school has emotional ripple effects throughout the country. In Grand Rapids, the head of security for GRPS said it may be a learning opportunity for safety professionals, but not a lesson anyone wanted to learn because of more than two dozen deaths.
"Unbelievable, unthinkable that at this time in our nation's history we can be facing yet another tragedy in an American school," said Larry Johnson. He is also the assistant superintendent -- and a father and grandfather.
He said this incident hit local schools hard, and he's spoken to school security members across the country. The entire mood, he said, is somber.
Overall, he said, schools are doing the right thing. In Grand Rapids, GRPS makes sure every school door is locked, that higher level schools have cameras and that teachers and staff are repeatedly trained about what to do in a crisis.
But even when everything is done correctly, he said, school safety is never guaranteed.
"No school in America can (guarantee safety) no matter how much they train, how much they prepare. We cannot guarantee 100% that a tragedy will not happen. It's sad but unfortunate. We can't guarantee that."
At Crestwood Elementary, parents who spoke with 24 Hour News 8 said they were sending prayers to those affected in Connecticut.
Crestwood's principal said the school chose to let parents explain to their children what happened. The students here are approximately the same age as the slain students in Newtown -- between 5-11.
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