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San Diego parents, school leaders, law enforcement devastated after Texas shooting

How are our local schools coping with the news of the latest school shooting? KPBS reporter Kitty Alvarado has local reactions.

The San Diego County community is reacting to another mass shooting at a school. The shooting was at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas where an 18-year-old gunman killed 19 children and two teachers Tuesday.

Maria Ortega is the mother of children in two San Diego County school districts. She also sits on the board of three local charter schools.

"I was simply gutted, devastated, just couldn’t understand this incomprehensible act committed on children. I broke down in tears," Ortega said.


She said teachers in particular are having a hard time in the aftermath of this shooting. Ortega spoke with her friend, who is an elementary school teacher in the South Bay, the day after the shooting.

"She said she got to school this morning and she simply sat in her car and cried," Ortega said.

Greg Mizel is the assistant superintendent in charge of safety and wellbeing at the Poway Unified School District.

"This is where staff members who know our kids and know our kids well, lean in," Mizel said.

He said he wants students to know that the district has emotional support at the ready, as well as security and other measures in place to keep students safe.


"Each and every one of our students deserves to walk on a campus where they feel safe, where they feel welcomed, where they feel supported and on a day like today, the relationships really kick in. We’re taking care of each other," Mizel said.
He said that when it comes to children who pose a risk to themselves or others, they provide emotional support and other resources to their families and make contacts with law enforcement, if necessary.

"I promise you, when we know more about this situation we will be briefing, we will learn what we can from it and we will do what we can to ensure we’re better prepared," Mizel said.

San Diego County Interim Sheriff Tony Ray said their deputies are wearing mourning bands in solidarity with Uvalde.

Ray said the department's protocol kicks in immediately after mass shootings.

"We’re trying to be visible, we are putting our deputies near the schools, the churches, the businesses where people gather together so that they know that we’re out there protecting them," Ray said.

He also said they reach out to neighborhood and business watch groups and schools to make sure their protocols are up to date. But he says the most important thing to do now is for people to communicate and ask for help before it’s too late.

"If somebody sees something, please call us and say something ... often times I talk to people and they say, 'I yeah I thought something was wrong but I didn’t want to bother you,' well we want to be bothered," said Ray. "If somebody sees something, they think somebody is acting weird or strange or they're uncomfortable about something it's okay to call the sheriff’s department."

KPBS has created a public safety coverage policy to guide decisions on what stories we prioritize, as well as whose narratives we need to include to tell complete stories that best serve our audiences. This policy was shaped through months of training with the Poynter Institute and feedback from the community. You can read the full policy here.