Updated May 8, 2023 - 8:15 pm
Seventh-grader Wanigi Bermudez said he heard the gunshots when a man was shot at Von Tobel Middle School on Monday. He turned around to see a security monitor who had fallen on the ground outside the school.
“I heard about four gunshots go off, and I turn around, and I see the hall monitor, but he was outside, and he fell down,” said Bermudez, 13.
“So then me and my friend, we started running back to class so we could get inside and be safe or whatever, and that’s when, like, cops started to pull up,” Bermudez said. “And we were just scared and shaken a little bit.”
The man — neither police nor school officials released his identity — was shot outside the middle school, at 2436 N. Pecos Road, near East Carey Avenue, at about 12:30 p.m. Monday, said Metropolitan Police Department Capt. Noel Roberts.
“They were able to determine right away that this was not an active shooter, but an isolated incident,” Roberts said. “We had one male adult who was hit and who was transported to (University Medical Center) and who is now in stable condition.”
No students hurt
In a statement to parents Monday, school principal Leonardo Amador said an adult was “struck by gunfire on campus outside our school building.”
The school district and police confirmed that no students were injured.
Police said the shooter had not been arrested.
Clark County School District Police Officer Jovan Mingo said in a news conference Monday afternoon that a suspect hadn’t been identified by police and that no suspect description could be released.
Roberts said police were trying to determine if the shots came from on or off the school campus, and if the shooter was a student, child or adult.
A statement from the Clark County Education Association, the union that represents school district teachers, said the lack of safety in the schools is “nothing short of a crisis.”
In February, after police said a 13-year-old student brought a loaded handgun to Mack Middle School, district police Lt. Bryan Zink said it was the 26th time a gun had been found on a student since the start of 2022-2023 school year. In a single day in February, school police seized four guns at three different schools.
Updated numbers weren’t immediately available Monday, but there have been other gun arrests at local schools since then, including that of a 16-year-old Western High school student on April 24 and a 17-year-old Eldorado High School student two days later.
Outside Von Tobel on Monday, dozens of parents gathered as the kids were held inside in a hard lockdown.
“I’m really frantic. Look at all these people. Do you see? These are our children,” said Valisia Blount, 52, whose granddaughter attends the school. “It’s heartbreaking that our kids can’t go to school and get educated” without gun violence interfering, she said.
“Even though knowing that nothing happened to a student, it’s still nerve-wracking,” added Leo Cornejo, 25, who was there to pick up his little sister. “You still get the chill because it’s crazy.”
Julio Moreno was growing frustrated as he waited for his eighth grade daughter to be safely released.
“We’ve seen the worst scenarios at other schools in the U.S.,” Moreno said. “We’re not going to just stand out here.”
At about 2:20 p.m., the kids started pouring out of the school, with many of them being hugged by their parents and guardians.
‘Why would anyone shoot him?’
Several students at the school including Bermudez identified the victim as a hall monitor known to kids as Todd or Mr. Todd.
“We all know him and we’re all cool with him,” said Bermudez after reuniting with his mother, Janice Martinez, 37. “So knowing that he got shot, it’s kinda like, wow, why would anyone shoot him?”
Sisters Zaniya and Zariya Oliver, 13, who are also students at the school, heard the shots. They described the school employee who was shot as a “very good guy.” They said the victim was outside the school when he was shot. They heard he had been shot in the leg.
“We thought we was gonna die!” said Zaniya, 14.
Video provided by Zaniya showed police with shotguns entering a classroom and saying, “Hands up!”
Eighth-grader Viviana Limon, 15, was hugging her older siblings, Dulce, 31, and Ulizes, 16, after emerging from the school after the lockdown.
When the announcement that the school was on hard lockdown and that it wasn’t a drill sounded over the school’s intercom, Limon said, “Everybody thought it was a joke and everybody started laughing.” But eventually everybody realized it wasn’t a joke, and all they could do was sit at their desks and wait.
Nearby, Jeffers and Herron elementary schools also were locked down, Mingo said.
‘More must be done’
According to a statement from the Education Support Employees Association, the union that represents support professionals on Clark County School District campuses, the man who was shot was a campus security monitor.
Superintendent Jesus Jara also said in a statement that the person shot was a staff member.
“As I have been saying for years, community issues are creeping onto our campuses, affecting our students negatively,” Jara said in his statement.
“What are our cities and the county doing to stop these situations? While we share the best safety intentions, more must be done in our communities to ensure children travel safely to and from school and on our campuses,” Jara said in the statement.
“We are deeply saddened by this news, but, unfortunately, we are not surprised,” the Clark County Education Association’s statement read. “The lack of safety in our schools is nothing short of a crisis, and with hundreds of deadly weapons confiscated already on CCSD campuses this school year, CCEA has been loud and clear that we believe this situation was a school shooting waiting to happen.”
Review-Journal staff writer Julie Wootton-Greener contributed to this report.