In an interview by Zoom with KFOR, Cole was still visibly shaken by the news.
“Two teachers lost their lives yesterday shielding their children in their classroom,” said Cole, trailing off.
In the latest mass killing in the country, authorities said the 18-year-old gunman who murdered the 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School barricaded himself inside a single classroom and “began shooting anyone that was in his way.”
“If I’m put in that position, do I leave them in that classroom or do I open that window [in my room] and tell them ‘Run, the devil’s chasing you,’” Cole said.
According to law enforcement, officers were eventually able to breach that classroom, killing the gunman.
Following the Uvalde massacre, the Texas Attorney General was widely cited with a call to arm teachers with guns.
Oklahoma’s Secretary of Education also took to Twitter Wednesday afternoon with a similar stance, telling followers in a video that “gunmen should know that they will not be able to enter our schools, that we will have armed support at our schools.”
Jami Cole, a fifth grade teacher in Duncan, Oklahoma said she’d be willing to do anything to keep her students safe, but would not pick up a gun.
“I would take a bullet for any of my students. And I think most teachers would tell you that,” she said.
“[But] you’re expecting a teacher to take down an active shooter…how [are] the police going to know when they come in? Who is the bad guy [and] who is the good guy?” she added. “What if you hit a student with friendly fire? Arming teachers literally not even be on the table. We are not trained to do that.”
As the country grapples with how to navigate mass shootings, school districts around the region said they are actively training students and staff with active shooter drills and response training, or increasing police presence at their schools.
“There’s been a lot of tears last night and a lot of tears today,” said Jennifer Newell, Director of School Safety and Security for Mustang Public Schools, telling KFOR her immediate response was to start looking at the system’s current plan and make adjustments as necessary.
“We are an options based school and we use [the tactic] ‘run, ‘hide, fight’,” she added, also sharing several drills the school district is required to work through frequently, according to state law.
Newell said the district prioritizes all efforts to mitigate violence, but encourages the use of physical fighting back – as a final option.
“We want [staff] to understand that [physical fighting] is the very last thing, that we have a lot of options before we get to that point,” she said.
“We [also] want to make sure that our staff understands that sometimes the best thing they can do is get out,” she added, also saying one of the most effective tactics they teach is to make sure doors are locked.
“One of the most important things that we can do is to lock our classroom doors and keep them closed,” she said. “We know that there is not been a situation where somebody has gotten through a locked classroom door and hurt somebody on the other side or killed somebody on the other side.”
“That [compliance] is one of the things that we’re focusing on, and will continue to focus on,” she added, also citing frequent communication and group planning as successful strategies they rely on to maintain a safe atmosphere.
“My opinion is, if we armed school staff here, one of our staff members [could] get hurt because they’re not going to be able to tell between who is the staff member and who is a bad guy,” she said. “So I’m going to trust our [local] law enforcement partners.”
“We can prevent even more violence if we as a community decide to no longer promote gun ownership as a solution,” said Wayland Cubit in a partial statement to KFOR.
The recently-retired Oklahoma City Police Lieutenant will join Oklahoma City Public Schools on July 1st as their Director of Security.
“Preventing something like this here in OKC is possible with a collective effort and commitment to peace. If we continue to believe more guns and more armed citizens is the solution, we will have a difficult road ahead.“Wayland Cubit, (Ret). OCPD Lieutenant
Reflecting on the 21 lives lost, Jami Cole said the mass shooting highlighted a growing trauma in schools that has become commonplace.
“When I first started teaching, [active shooter] wasn’t even in our vocabulary… [ until] Columbine,” she said. “[Now,] kids are getting conditioned. They’re starting in pre-K, in Kindergarten, learning how to do active shooter drills.”
“It’s always good to be prepared. We prepare for a fire drill, we have a tornado drill,” she added, pausing on a question – if drills were enough.
She pondered the question.
“I don’t know. Was it enough yesterday when 19 kids are now dead?” she responded. “I really hope the powers that be come together and figure this out.”