As she drove her daughter to N.B. Mills Elementary on Monday morning, Sonya Parker said she was hoping for one thing.
“I was hoping we’d see a patrol car when we drove up,” she said.
And her wish was granted.
Local law enforcement officials decided to increase presence at all elementary schools Monday morning in response to Friday’s massacre in Newton, Conn., which left 20 students and six school employees dead.
Statesville Police Chief Tom Anderson said the decision was not due to any threat but out an abundance of caution.
“I know parents are afraid,” he said. “It’s rattled everybody. It’s rattled law enforcement. A lot of law enforcement officers are also parents.”
Anderson said this will be the new normal at elementary schools throughout the city of Statesville.
Parker said her 9-year-old daughter was upset all weekend as a result of the shooting deaths.
“All weekend she’s asked questions and I’ve tried to answer them the best I could,” she said.
Still, when the time came to go to school this morning, Parker said, her daughter was apprehensive. All of that disappeared, she said, when her daughter saw the patrol car at N.B. Mills on Monday morning.
“When she got out of the car, she said, ‘Mama, I love you and I know I’m going to have a good day,’ ” Parker said.
She said her daughter approached the police officer as she headed into the school building.
“It was just a relief,” she said.
Deputies also were in view at most of the county’s elementary schools Monday morning, said Capt. Darren Campbell of the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office criminal investigation division.
Like Anderson, Campbell said, the measures were strictly precautionary.
“We wanted to make people feel a little bit better,” he said.