This is a developing story.
(JTA) — Police in Memphis shot and killed a man on Monday whom they said attempted to attack a Jewish day school there.
The incident occurred around noon at Margolin Hebrew Academy Feinstone Yeshiva of the South, an Orthodox school on the city’s east side. A man fired shots outside the school but failed to gain entry and left the scene. He was killed after police apprehended him nearby, Memphis police officials said.
The suspect was a member of the Jewish community and the incident appeared personal in nature, according to a spokesperson for the Secure Community Network, an organization that coordinates security for Jewish institutions nationwide.
According to Michael Masters, CEO of the Secure Community Network, the suspect was a male in his 40s who tried to enter the school but was prevented from doing so due to a security system.
The Orthodox school, which serves students from pre-kindergarten through high school, sent an alert to its community.
“Please, be advised that we are currently in a developing active shooter situation. We can confirm that no one has been hurt in any way, and everyone is now safe, thank G-d,” the alert said. “Please look out for further communication with additional information to come. In the meantime, our campus is completely closed. We thank you for your understanding. May we all continue to merit Hashem’s protection.”
The school declined to provide additional comment to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
The day school is still on summer break. But there were school personnel including construction workers during the shooting, and the building immediately went into lockdown, according to Masters. All schools in the Memphis-Shelby County Schools district were also put on a precautionary lockdown, which was lifted at 2 pm.
“He had made statements that he was targeting the facility for a specific reason,” said Masters, who added that the suspect was a “known offender.”
An executive at Jewish Community Partners, the local Jewish federation, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the federation has worked for years with Masters’ organization. The federation has worked to help local Jewish institutions set security policies and access government grants meant to make facilities more secure.
“This is a testament to the Federation, the community in Memphis, taking a comprehensive approach to security that ensures the protection of the whole community,” Masters said. “It’s another reminder that we’re not going to choose the time and place of the next incident but we can choose our preparation, and today that preparation paid off.”
Police officials, too, said during a press conference that the school’s security system had averted tragedy.
“Thankfully, that school had a great safety procedure and process in place and avoided anyone being harmed or injured at that scene,” said Dan Crow, an assistant police chief. PJC