An Alabama school resource officer (SRO) was moved to tears after reading a letter from a mother thanking him for rescuing her daughter from an armed man nine years ago.
“When I got the letter, I teared up and cried. It touched me deeply,” Shelby County Deputy David Morrow said.
Mother Deanna O’Neal never forgot Morrow’s actions on February 12, 2013, when the deputy rescued her daughter from an armed man who held the girl and four others hostage in the locker room of Chelsea Middle School.
“After watching how the Uvalde tragedy unfolded — I wanted you to know how thankful I am that you did not hesitate to run into that locker room for those girls. I wanted you to see that scared 13-year-old turned into an incredible young lady who is living her life to the fullest. Thank you for thinking of her first on that scary day. You are always in my prayers,” O’Neal wrote in her letter.
She wrote the letter after her daughter, Madeline O’Neal, recently graduated from the University of Alabama.
Morrow recalled that he and the school principal ran to the locker room to confront the armed gunman who had taken the girls hostage. Identified as Ryan Matthew Sims, a former student and a part-time employee at the school, he is currently being held in a mental institution.
Morrow, who received the National Valor Award in 2014 for his actions that day, recalled defusing the situation by talking to Sims.
“That man [Sims] that day remembered me as his SRO. I was able to talk to him, along with the principal,” Morrow told WBMA.
Morrow began working as an SRO in 2007 at Chelsea Middle, and currently works full-time for Oak Mountain Intermediate.
“I can tell you numerous invitations I’ve gotten to weddings, birthday parties and graduations through the years,” the deputy said.
Morrow’s daily routine consists of making sure doors are locked and security cameras are running, and checking for IDs. More importantly, Morrow said his job is about bonding with students. “We want to build those positive lasting relationships,” he said.
“Trust that if somethings happens they’re in good hands. We’re not going to wait, not react. We are going to do whatever we need to do,” Morrow assured parents.
Chief meteorologist for WBMA James Spann, who is a friend of Morrow’s, said that his “actions on that day in 2013 in Chelsea were absolutely heroic.” He also said that Morrow “wanted no attention over this.”
The memories from the letter also roused praise from the sheriff’s office.
“In 2013, Shelby County SRO Deputy David Morrow faced a gunman in a Shelby County School locker room. Deputy Morrow ran to the threat and defused the situation,” the agency wrote in a post.
It also added that its deputies had recently attended Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training to prepare to respond to similar threats.
“Our SROs are ready. We will protect our students. We will not hesitate,” the post continued.