One student is still in critical condition and another one was injured during a school shooting in Colorado last Friday.
This weekend, investigators said the rampage may have lasted longer had it not been for the quick reaction of a resource officer who was on campus.
Here in the Heartland, many schools have School Resource Officers on duty who are ready to respond to any emergency, including active shooter situations.
At Central High School in Cape Girardeau, an officer is always on duty during school hours. Officer Mark Wyatt is one of five SROs in the district.
Officer Wyatt said when tragedies like the shooting in Colorado happen, it reminds everyone how big of a role these officer can play.
"It's our job to protect our youth and I think that's what we do here," Officer Wyatt said.
Officer Wyatt's daily patrol is different than most officers. Students say they feel safer with an officer on duty.
"He's making sure the students are doing what they're supposed to be doing in the parking lots and then occasionally I'll pass him in the hallways or the office," Senior Aaron Mehner said.
Students like Mehner say officer Wyatt is no stranger.
"You pass him in the hallways every now and then and you get that sense of security when you see a figure who is not just another teacher and you know that's their specific job, to handle the security in the school, so it feels good to have him around," Mehner said.
Officer Wyatt said he went through specialized training to be a School Resource Officer and the training is ongoing.
"I really do believe in the purpose that we serve here, as far as protecting kids," Officer Wyatt said.
Office Wyatt said knowing that the officer in the Colorado High School helped stop the shooting from getting worse reassures him that he's working in the right career.
"The situation in Colorado, it goes to show that hopefully the system is working and that the training is paying off," Wyatt said.
School administrators across the Heartland agree.
"School campuses are very safe places, but having someone from law enforcement on-site that can react to an emergency is a good things to have," said Tim Regenold, Sikeston High School principal.
Students say officers also teach them how to react to emergency situations.
"If there was an intruder, he was in the class, going over how we should prepare ourselves if there were an active shooter on campus," Mehner said.
Officer Wyatt said he feels like being a school officer is a calling.
"Hopefully just my being here does make the students feel a little safer," Officer Wyatt said.
Officer Wyatt is specifically assigned to the high school every day. Another officer is assigned to the junior high school and another to the career center. Two additional officers are on patrol at the elementary schools.
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