Police quickly ended a potential siege at a children's sports camp in the Dallas area Monday when they fatally shot a gunman who had opened fire inside the complex, but did not injure anyone.
The unidentified man appeared to have fired twice in Duncanville Fieldhouse, a youth sports and training venue in the city of the same name about 13 miles south of Dallas, police said.
The armed suspect entered through the complex's main lobby doors and was confronted by a staff member, Duncanville Police Department Assistant Chief Matt Stogner said at an afternoon news conference.
The staff member told the man to go outside, according to a city spokesperson. The suspect "fired one shot when he was told to go outside," the official said, adding the staff member was not armed.
The alleged gunman then went to what was described as a classroom filled with children and opened fire from outside after he was unable to get in, the assistant chief said.
"Fortunately, no one was injured," he said.
Beginning with the first sounds of gunfire, children at the complex were moved into a "safe area" that was then locked, steps staffers were trained to execute in active shooter situations, Stogner said.
The suspect moved to the main gym, he said, where there were still children present, but no shots were fired, at least until officers arrived and engaged in the firefight that killed him.
The man was given first aid by officers at the scene and taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, the assistant chief said.
It appeared no one but the suspect was struck or injured, Stogner said. The man was unknown to Duncanville police, he said.
Children attending camps at the complex range in age from 4 to 14, officials said.
Camp counselor Naomi Rodgers told NBC affiliate KXAS of Dallas-Fort Worth she was in the classroom, filled with children ages 4 to 6, when it became a focus of the suspect.
"The shooter actually came to our door," she said, "and he said if we didn’t let him see who he wanted to see he was going to shoot the place up."
The suspect shot the classroom door, which is glass, she said.
“I just started to pray then because that’s all I could do,” said the counselor, who’s 18.
Stogner credited a rapid response by officers for shutting down what could have been another shooting tragedy involving defenseless children.
Dispatchers began receiving 911 calls at 8:43 a.m. about a person with a gun at the Duncanville complex, where an estimated 250 children were attending camps, authorities said.
Officers arrived in two minutes, entered the building and looked for the armed individual, Duncanville police spokeswoman Michelle Arias told reporters.
Children were cleared from the building reunited with parents at the nearby Duncanville Recreation Center, authorities said.
Monday's incident unfolded nearly three weeks after a gunman broke into Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, about 350 miles southwest of Duncanvile, and killed 19 children and two teachers.
Stogner was asked about what went right with his officers' response at a time when the law enforcement strategy in Uvalde was being probed by state and federal investigators.
"We obviously understand what took place south of us," he said. "We certainly take our security very seriously."
Nonetheless, officials will review the safety protocols followed at the venue Monday to see if mistakes were made or if improvements can be instituted, Duncanville City Manager Aretha R. Ferrell-Benavides said at the afternoon news conference.
Police in Uvalde are under intense scrutiny. The killer there remained in a locked classroom with victims for more than an hour before a tactical unit from federal law enforcement entered and fatally shot the gunman.
And nearly one month ago, a white gunman motivated by hate and dressed in tactical gear killed 10 people at a supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood in western New York, officials said.
Before suspect Payton Gendron, 18, opened fire at Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo, he is alleged to have posted a 180-page document revealing plans to attack Black people while citing the racist “great replacement theory” — which falsely says white Americans are being supplanted by nonwhite people through immigration, interracial marriage and, eventually, violence.
CORRECTION (June 15, 2022, 11:20 a.m. ET): A previous version of this article misstated the actions of a staff member at the Texas summer camp. The staff member confronted the gunman, but did not exchange gunfire with him.