Thomas Jefferson High School staff members are being recognized for their swift actions in response to a student being shot outside the school last Tuesday. As most of the 1,400 students had already dispersed for the day, band director Bob Romano, athletic trainer Raul Velazquez, and assistant athletic director Brandi Elder were just wrapping up their day outside the school when a car pulled up and a student was shot. Although the district declined to give any details regarding the arrest that was made on Thursday, all three staff members rushed to the scene and assisted in providing aid to the injured student.
Romano recalled the event, stating that the sound of the gunshot was initially muffled and not immediately recognizable. It wasn’t until he saw Velazquez running towards the scene from his clinic that he realized something was wrong. As soon as they arrived on the scene, they found a student lying on the ground with a gunshot wound to his arm. A parent who had been present offered to use their belt as a tourniquet, and another student offered a sweatshirt to help control the bleeding.
Velasquez used his medical knowledge and training to assist in the situation, while Romano called 911. All three staff members were trained in CPR and equipped with the knowledge to handle emergency situations due to the district’s “Stop the Bleed” training provided to employees. Elder, who was notified of the shooting by several students, immediately notified the school’s administrators and focused on reassuring students still on campus while getting them inside the building.
The district’s decision to cancel classes on Wednesday allowed staff members to process the events of Tuesday and regroup before returning to campus on Thursday. Romano stated that he spoke with his band students before they left for a UIL competition that afternoon and allowed them to vote on whether they wanted to participate. An overwhelming 95 percent of the students felt that they needed and wanted to perform, which Romano believes was important for both the students and himself emotionally.
Thomas Jefferson High School has endured numerous hardships over the past few years, including a gas leak caused explosion that displaced several students and families for weeks, an EF3 tornado that destroyed the campus and forced a move to a different location, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite these challenges, the staff and students remain resilient and committed to their school motto, “TJ Strong.”
Elder emphasized the school’s strength and the amazing students who attend, stating that they are going to perform and thrive through all obstacles. Romano echoed this sentiment, saying that the school is on the rise and should not be defined by the catastrophic events that have occurred. The three staff members involved in the shooting incident are being hailed as heroes for their quick response and resolve during a difficult situation.