In wake of last Tuesday’s tragic mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas where 19 young students, 2 teachers, and now the spouse of one teacher died, parents across the country have since felt uneasy about sending their own children to school in fear of a repeat incident before the school year ends.
While the country continues to strategize effective solutions to protect our students and curtail the gun violence epidemic, one man has reportedly taken it upon himself to ease the hearts and minds of anxious parents in the time being.
On Wednesday afternoon, Stephanie Pritchett of Houston, Texas re-posted a now viral story and photo she stumbled upon in a Facebook group. SEE POST HERE.
Stephanie re-shared the post from a fellow Texas parent to publicly highlight the kind gentleman from Killeen, Texas but clarifies under the post, “I do want to say I stole the post from a group on my page.”
The post reads, “There is a gentleman that was standing outside of my daughter’s school this morning when I dropped off. I thought he was maybe waiting for a ride. This afternoon when I went back he was still standing there, so I called the school and I asked what he was doing there. And well obviously he volunteered to stand watch over the school.”
In the image re-posted by Stephanie, a man in a black shirt and sunglasses can be seen standing in front of what appears to be the main entrance of Saegert Elementary school with his hands firmly in his pockets.
The Texas parent continued, “That just literally made my day and I wanted to thank that gentleman for doing that because I think it’s very courageous and it puts some of our hearts and minds at ease. I wanted to shake his hand but I didn’t want to interrupt as he was doing a job. He needs to be recognized because this is amazing.”
The touching post has garnered admiration from parents and individuals all across the globe, and is nearing half a million Facebook shares. Social media users have praised the unidentified man in the comments: “This world needs more people like him.” “He’s setting a good example!” “God bless him.”
While it may not be a long-term solution to gun violence in America, we hope parents can sleep a little better tonight knowing kindness still, and always will, exist.
The mystery man has been identified as Eddie Chelby of Killeen, Texas. Chelby recently spoke with Love What Matters to answer a few questions about his amazing act of kindness:
Can you tell us a bit about your act of kindness that has gone viral?
“I was present and standing watch over Saegert Elementary school for the last two days of school, which were May 25th and May 26th. Those days were filled with end of school year parties and 5th Grade graduation ceremonies. I was privileged and blessed to be in a position and given the opportunity to provide a sense of security for everyone who came to the school to help those students celebrate.”
Why did you decide to stand watch outside of Saegert Elementary school?
“Simply put, because of the recent and tragic events that conspired in Uvalde, Texas on the morning of Tuesday, May 24th. I was immediately overcome with an immense amount of grief thinking of those babies taken from this world so early and in such an egregious way. As a father of four (two school-aged) and grandfather to one (also school-aged) I quickly identified, as much of the world did, with the parents, survivors, students, and staff directly affected.
By trade, currently, I am a private security contractor who has been actively advising and protecting clients for over a decade. I currently advise for SYOTOS, LLC and I am the Director of Operations for SYOTOS Technologies. I am also the security advisor for Global Resource Strategy Alliance (GRSA) and the Site Security Chief for Constellis and National Security Division. Previous to that, I was in the U.S. Army for 11 years. Due to the nature of the job I often go away for days, weeks, and months at a time. It just so happened that I was home.
It seemed selfish of me to not offer my son (who just finished as a fourth grader) and my wife who is one of the school’s registered nurses, as well as the other children, staff, teachers, and parents of my own community peace of mind and the same type of services I would total strangers.
I did it for my own peace of mind, but also to ease the worries of all the parents reluctant and apprehensive about sending their children to school in the days following this terrible event.”
As a parent, what changes do you hope to see in the near future?
“As has been happening in the past week in my own community of Killeen, Texas, around the country, and around the world since Uvalde, I hope to see a new resurgence in the parental/guardian volunteers and active involvement within our schools specifically with the school security postures. I especially, as a father, call to all fathers of school-aged children to step forward and show a stronger presence at our schools. This means researching and following through on requirements needed to volunteer at our schools, including background checks.
As my company SYOTOS, LLC also provides, I hope that state legislation and/or school boards allow for and create a budget for security assessments and the effective training of volunteers in all security and life protection manners as it applies to school safety, whether that is armed or unarmed. Looking like a ‘hard target’ is often the biggest deterrent in security situations.”
What message, if any, do you want to share with the world?
“It’s time to refocus on what we as a community, as fathers and mothers, can do for ourselves instead of waiting and hoping others will do it for us. We can do this by seeking out and identifying resources within our own communities, which is abundantly found amongst parents. You’re all harder than you think and it’s time to own that ethos.
I wasn’t the only dad to do this the day after Uvalde, or the day(s) after all of our mass shootings in schools in the past. I’m just a Dad, who happened to be an army veteran and security professional, that by pure chance went viral. But if that small act sparks a call to action by our community and encourages more to volunteer in all aspects of our children’s lives, I’ll be happy and blessed to be the face of it.”
Read our inspiring stories from shooting and terrorism survivors:
‘Stay calm, keep moving. You’re getting out of here.’ The firefighter lifted me up. The lights faded, water filling at my feet. Panic set in.’: 9/11 survivor thanks firefighter for saving her life, ‘I will live each day to its fullest, never in vain of his heroism’
‘Am I ever going to walk again? Will I survive this?’ I never saw the man who did it. I just felt the shattering vibration and collapsed.’: Woman survives nightclub shooting to support other survivors
‘Katie, Katie!’ Bullets pinged. I had a death grip on my friend’s hand. No way in hell I was letting go.’: Route 91, Las Vegas Mass Shooting survivor shows ‘random acts of kindness,’ ‘we will NOT let him win’
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