Parents, students and teachers at an elementary school in Alabama had a scare on Thursday morning when two men got into an altercation in the carpool line that resulted in a shooting. But one mother and father of a 6-year-old at the school found out about the possible danger to their first grader while in a local newsroom. That’s where they first heard about shots being fired in the Blount Elementary School parking lot.
Judd and Bethany Davis are both reporters on a program called “Today in Alabama” for local Montgomery station WSFA . They heard about a possible school shooting through police scanners located in the newsroom.
“We kind of all huddled over by the scanner and we tried to get some information and gather some information for our next news update,” Judd tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
But it wasn’t until he was sitting in front of the camera to go live with the latest news that he finally heard at which school the incident had taken place.
“I heard somebody say Blount Elementary School, which is where our first grader goes, so then I hopped up out of the chair and went over by the scanner. I could see the concerned look on my wife’s face and I was the same way. And then [police] said possible armed shooter inside the school,” Judd explains. “I definitely turned off reporter mode and went straight to parent mode.”
Judd quickly informed his co-anchor that she would have to do the update alone and got in his car to go to the school. However, when he called his father-in-law, who drops off their son Hudson every morning, Judd found out that his son was safe and traffic was being diverted away from the school, so decided to return to work.
Back at the studio, he went on camera to do the next news update while Bethany was sent to do live reporting at the school. There, she was able to see Hudson and make sure that he was okay before the 6-year-old decided to go into the school once classes resumed. Still, Judd says it was difficult for them to do their jobs that day.
“It was kind of tough to do because we know the teachers and I was texting back and forth with a teacher there,” he explains. “This happened about five minutes before they let kids in for school, but there were kids and parents waiting in line to get out of their cars and the shots were fired.”
According to Montgomery Police, the two adult men had a verbal altercation after a traffic dispute in the parking lot. However, it quickly escalated when one of the men, identified as 38-year-old Isaiah Johnson, discharged a firearm. Nobody was injured in the process and there was only minor damage done to the other man’s vehicle.
Johnson then entered the school with the weapon, where he handed it over to school staff and awaited law enforcement. Both men were taken into custody, but the unidentified man was released after it was determined that he didn’t possess or fire a weapon. Johnson was placed under arrest and transported to Montgomery County Detention facility while the Montgomery police department further investigates.
After it was reported that everyone at the school was safe, Judd took to his Facebook page to share some of his story and the difficult feelings he had as a parent of a child attending the school.
“My heart stopped, stomach dropped, and for a minute everything went quiet,” he wrote on Thursday. “Parents, we have to do better, all of us.”
Judd tells Yahoo Lifestyle that the anxiety only continued toward the end of the day when he and Bethany had to have a difficult conversation with their son about what had taken place.
“He said it was a good day, and he was kind of dancing around the obvious thing that we were trying to get at,” Judd says. “So we asked him, ‘Do you want to talk about what happened before school today when you guys had to wait?’ And he asked, ‘Why did somebody shoot a gun in the parking lot?’”
On Friday morning, Judd was still reliving the moment that he received a FaceTime call from Bethany while she was on school grounds, and he saw his son’s smiling face on the other end of it. “This may be the best phone call I’ve ever answered,” he wrote in a Facebook post.
Now, Judd hopes that his posts, which have been seen by thousands of people, are reminding others to think about the many people that these violent incidents affect.
“I just wanted to vent a little bit and send the message out to parents, me included, that we all need to be a good example,” Judd says. “When there are conflicts or things that come up where you don’t agree, we have to find better ways to deal with it than just to resort to physical violence or even worse, gun violence.”
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