Killeen, TX – The father of a little girl in Texas stood guard at the main entrance of her elementary school until summer break began today and pictures of him protecting the children have gone viral.
Ed Chelby told KWTX that he couldn’t sleep after the massacre by an 18-year-old gunman at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde on Tuesday.
Chelby’s daughter attends Saegert Elementary School, located in the 5600-block of Schorn Drive in Killeen, where his wife works as the school nurse.
Killeen is located about 227 miles from Uvalde, where 19 children and two teachers were murdered by a high school dropout with an AR-15 style rifle in classrooms on May 24, two days before the start of summer vacation.
Seventeen more people were shot in classrooms during the incident but authorities have not yet said if all of those victims were children.
Officials at a press conference in Texas on Thursday tried to unravel a convoluted timeline full of misinformation that had been reported in the first 24 hours after the rampage in Uvalde.
Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) South Texas Regional Director Victor Escalon said that contrary to initial reports from officials, the shooter was not confronted by a police officer between the time he shot his grandmother and the time he entered Robb Elementary School.
“It was reported that a school district police officer confronted the suspect that was making entry,” Director Escalon told reporters. “Not accurate. He walked in unobstructed initially.”
In fact, no law enforcement officers were present at the school at all when the shooter arrived, he said.
Chelby said he contacted the superintendent of the Killeen Independent School District (ISD) and asked permission to stand guard in front of the school for the last two days of the school year, KWTX reported.
“I said I would just be out there unarmed to let people know that I’m watching. Let the parents have a little bit of relief,” Chelby said.
He said he was surprised when he was granted permission to stand the post, KWTX reported.
“I can’t let this go,” the father explained. “This is just a testament to the sleeplessness caused by the grief I experienced.”
Chelby said he has a background in security and 11 years of U.S. Army experience so he was not afraid to take the spot in front of the school without a gun, KWTX reported.
He said he was already in the process of becoming a volunteer at his daughter’s school when the Uvalde shootings occurred on May 24 and was undergoing a background check when the superintendent gave him permission to stand guard at Saegert Elementary School.
“I’ve had a lot of emotional people come up to me,” Chelby said, “They didn’t want to send their kids to school. They struggled with sending their kids to school. And I told them, I was like, ‘I got them.’”
Parents of other children at his daughter’s school said they were grateful for what Chelby was doing.
“Him standing in front of the school, that’s reassuring – feeling that we get to go home and see our families this summer,” Samantha Longfeather-Locke, the mother of a Saegert student, told KWTX.
Longfeather-Locke posted the picture of Chelby standing in front of the elementary school that quickly went viral.
“The world needed to know what he was doing because I feel that, that’s sparking some sort of change to start,” she explained.
The mother credited Chelby with providing comfort to anxious parents in the days after the massacre at Robb Elementary School, KWTX reported.
“We all struggle with that,” Chelby agreed. “You don’t know if you should send your kid to school. You want them to get their education and their experience of the last days of school, but you want to protect them with everything you got.”
The school district said there were similar opportunities for other parents who wanted to volunteer to help in the school district, KWTX reported.