After Kentucky school shooting, teen’s faith amazes
'Are you OK?” “Tell me you’re safe.” “Pamela, please text…
Jeff Mathes will never wear red and black the same way again.
Those are the colors of The Covenant School in Nashville, Tenn., where Mathes and fellow officers responded to a shooting that claimed six lives — three of them children.
“That’s going to be with me forever,” the detective sergeant with the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department said of the March 27 shooting, which ended when police took the life of the shooter.
Mathes, a graduate of Harding University in Searcy, Ark., and fellow officers Det. Michael Collazo and Rex Engelbert entered the school in the midst of gunshots. A total of 152 rounds were fired by the shooter.
“Not knowing what I was walking into, I went through that door with purpose,” Mathes, supervisor for the department’s Midtown Hills Community Field Intelligence Team, said during a Monday news conference. “I knew the gravity of the situation.”
As they approached the shooter, “the smell of gunpowder was in the air,” Mathes said. “All of us stepped over a victim. I, to this day, do not know how I did that morally. But training is what kicked in.”
During the news conference, Collazo and Engelbert also recalled their experiences. Both officers fired fatal shots at the shooter. Nashville Police Chief John Drake praised their actions.
“Those officers immediately went in,” Drake said. “They just wanted to save kids.”
A reporter asked the officers how they were handling the emotional trauma one week after the shooting. Mathes praised the responses they have received from the Nashville community and from their department. He also thanked family members and churches that “have stepped up drastically to reach out.”
Mathes graduated from Harding in 2010 with a bachelor’s in criminal justice, said a spokesperson for the university, which is associated with Churches of Christ.
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