PALMETTO, Fla. (CBS Local) — A charter school in Florida has hired two combat veterans to patrol the grounds with semi-automatic rifles to protect students from any active shooters, according to officials. Principal Bill Jones said he wants to make sure if an armed intruder were to enter the campus of Manatee School for the Arts in Palmetto, they would be met with swift, overwhelming and deadly force.
“If someone walks onto this campus, they’re going to be shot and killed,” Jones told The Bradenton Herald. “We’re not going to talk with them. We’re not going to negotiate. We are going to put them down, as quickly as possible.”
All schools in Florida were mandated to have armed security on campus following the Feb. 14 shooting that killed 17 students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
But because MSA is a charter school, it can independently hire guards and decide what type of weapon they want them to use. It decided it would only hire military veterans with combat experience and arm them at all times with 9-millimeter Glock handguns and Kel-Tec RDB 17-inch semi-automatic long-guns.
The first guard, a 15-year U.S. Army veteran who served three tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, has been on campus for a couple of months. The second guard, also a combat veteran, is currently undergoing required training by the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.
Manatee School for the Arts, with a population of 2,100 middle and high school students, is the only school in the county to have a guardian who wears a high-powered weapon during the school day, WTSP reported.
“The long gun gives you a better range,” Jones said, citing the ability to neutralize an intruder from across the cafeteria, for example
“It’ll get the message across. No one will come and try to threaten the school,” said Renferi Milian, 18, a senior at MSA.
But some students’ families say the approach goes too far.
“I don’t like to see the weapon, it gives a bad impression of a war,” said Manuel Barcada, whose grandson attends MSA. “It’s not correct.”