Willcox Supt: staff acted quickly, properly after shooting

Willcox Supt: staff acted quickly, properly after shooting

CREATED Mar 2, 2012

Reporter: Claire Doan

WILLCOX, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - The afternoon scare Thursday led to an hours-long lockdown at all three Willcox schools, with 1300 students. Parents were so concerned they kept dialing 911, overloading the emergency system.

9 On Your Side asked administrators exactly what and how they communicated with parents during the emergency.

District Superintendent Dr. Richard Rundhaug said quick thinking by his staff helped saved lives, including that of school custodian Gus Morales. He was in the middle of flying bullets as he drove his van yards away from the shooter and helped one of the students who escaped the car shattered by the bullet.

"At that time, the gunman raised his rifle pointed at the youngster - the high school student - which I hollered at, 'Get in my van!' He ran, got in my van so I started backing out when I was on the phone calling 911," Morales said. "When he saw I was on the phone, he raised the rifle and took another shot at my van which hit the tree behind us."

However, during much of the lockdown, parents were desperate for information. A phone alert and a web posting on the school's site went up around 8 in the evening.

Reporter Claire Doan asked Rundhaug: "For parents who are concerned during the time, during the lockdown, what are they to do and where do they get their information?"

"Our main thing was really to cooperate as much as we could with the broadcast media, that was our main outlet," Rundhaug responded. He added that credible information was hard to come by and he tried to only disseminate information that was confirmed.

To his credit, he did appear on KGUN9 News and other stations for live interviews during the lockdown.

"What I can say is as soon as we felt comfortable publishing information, we got it out as quickly as we could … Information came to us slowly as well," Rundhaugh said, saying he did not have a conversation with the Chief of Police until 7pm, when he learned all the details.

However, Rundhaugh said his staff did not panic and properly carried out procedures and helped students to safety.

"I would say the biggest critique is to look at whether or not we could've gotten some notifications out sooner. That would be the greatest critique. But as you look to the rest of the system, though, I think it was a situation where the procedure worked," Rundhaug said.

Arthur Tineo, whom police say is shooter, faces a slew of charges: three counts of attempted murder; being a prohibited possessor of a firearm; numerous counts of endangerment; and numerous counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. 

Tineo is being held on a $2 million dollar bond.