Florence superintendent praises handling of gun incident - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Florence superintendent praises handling of gun incident

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Sanders was arrested Tuesday after an incident on campus. Sanders was arrested Tuesday after an incident on campus.
FLORENCE, AL (WAFF) -

A father faces several charges after police said he became unruly and was caught carrying a gun on school property in Florence. Derrin Sanders has been charged with carrying a pistol without a permit, public intoxication and criminal trespassing.

Officials said the father showed up at the school to have lunch with his child. During that time, someone said he started acting suspiciously, and the SRO was notified. When the officer approached him, police said the man smelled of alcohol and was escorted outside. The officer searched Sanders and found a gun underneath his shirt.

School Superintendent Dr. Janet Womack credits the quick reaction from staff and school resource officers for handling the situation quickly and without any disruption to the school day. She said the district is committed to keeping students and faculty safe while at school, and that Tuesday's incident is an example of the working relationship between the school district and Florence Police in action.

"That's why we have a safety plan and anticipate the unexpected," said Womack. "In the event that any of those situations occur, we can execute that plan flawlessly to keep our students and personnel out of harm's way."

Many parents voiced concerns on social media about why they were notified of the incident after 4 p.m., when the incident actually occurred during the lunch period. Dr. Womack said the district worked to get all the information from police before releasing a statement to parents and guardians.

"I understand their concern from their perspective because we certainly want our parents to be informed," Womack said, "Our first priority is to secure the situation because their children are in that school, and working with law enforcement to make sure everything has been covered. At that point we can share the facts and information with our public."

School officials said if students and staff were ever put in danger, or if a more serious situation occurred, parents and guardians would be notified as soon as school officials could release the information from local authorities.

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