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Questions Linger After DeKalb School Shooting

Credit Dan Raby / WABE

DeKalb police say they've arrested 20-year-old Michael Brandon Hill Tuesday for allegedly firing shots from an AK-47 inside a DeKalb County elementary school. Authorities say Hill faces numerous charges.

No one was reportedly hurt, including the suspect, police, students, and faculty. However, parents are still concerned about some procedures.

Parents cheered when school buses carrying their children entered a Walmart parking lot near the McNair Discovery Learning Academy. Some waited more than two hours in the heat. But that wasn’t what bothered them. Jeannette Moore, who has two children at McNair, said she didn’t understand how the gunman entered what she says is a secure school.

“When my daughter, when she goes up to get them, they run her through the rags,” Moore said. “They will not let her get her siblings. But for this to happen, for someone to walk into the school and you open the door, someone’s not doing something right.”

Parents say they have to ring a buzzer and show an ID to a security camera to enter the school. 

As to how the gunman was able to enter, DeKalb police chief Cedric Alexander said details were still under review.

“We suspect that he came in behind someone who was authorized to be there and he just walked in behind him,” said Alexander.

WABE was unable to interview McNair school officials. 

The scene at the Wal-Mart parking lot was orderly. The buses arrived by grade level. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation checked parents’ IDs and made them sign for their children.

Despite the well-organized dismissal, some parents were still bothered. Syvannah Davis, standing with her second-grade son, wondered why the school didn’t notify her of the incident.

“Didn’t nobody say nothing,” Davis said. “I heard it, somebody seen it on the news and they called me, because they know he goes here.”

Several parents said the same thing: they heard about the shooting on the news or from a friend or relative.

Rick Jackson, who manages the county’s School Emergency Response Team, acknowledged DeKalb doesn’t have a uniform parental notification system, whether by phone, text, or email. He said it’s left to individual schools. As for McNair, Jackson said he didn't know the school's procedure for notifying parents.

“There’s a protocol at each school,” Jackson said. “How they do it, I don’t know…you know if that what was happening. I don’t know if they done that at the school. But we will check and find out if that was done at the school.” 

Jackson, who has led the emergency response team since October, said a countywide parental alert system is under review.

“We’re trying to get all of our schools on the same page and that’s going to take awhile,” he said. “That’s going to take us a moment.” 

DeKalb Interim Superintendent Michael Thurmond reiterated that, adding the day had been a “fluid situation” and he had to make “some battlefield decisions to keep students, employees, and parents safe.”