(NewsNation) —Tuesday’s shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, where a gunman killed 19 children and two adults, was personal for some of the officers who responded to the chaotic scene.
It was personal because they had family inside. One officer reportedly had a daughter killed in the shooting.
The heroic efforts of the dozens of responding officers, including the off-duty Border Patrol agent who ran into the building and killed the gunman, will not soon be forgotten in Uvalde. But for some of the officers, the horror of what they saw inside that building will not be soon forgotten, either.
Retired police officers Sean Larkin and Chad Ayers told NewsNation’s “Dan Abrams Live” on Wednesday that the toll events like this can take on officers can be a heavy emotional burden to carry, especially when the violence involves a child.
“It’s a tremendous impact on us,” Larkin said. “I was a police officer for 25 years and during my career I saw a lot of things … you see how horrible humans can be to one another.”
An officer potentially encountering their own loved ones at the scene, Ayers said, is something he “cannot fathom.”
“It’s one thing to go to a call on a scene or an active shooter event on a another side of town, but these guys are in their patrol cars, that radio call goes out that there’s an active shooter event … I literally cannot imagine hearing that, ‘Oh my god, I am going to my child’s school or my next door neighbor’s school,'” Ayers said.
Larkin himself had to seek counseling for some of the things he encountered during his career, and believes any officer that has trouble coping with trauma that comes with the job should seek help.
“There’s a reason why law enforcement officers have a shorter life span than the general public,” Larkin said. “This job is hard on us, physically, mentally, emotionally.”
Particularly, events like Tuesday’s where officers have to exchange gunfire with a suspect, then witness unimaginable carnage, require extra doses of bravery. On Tuesday, officers could be seen running toward the sound of gunfire.
“Those officers did exactly what they were trained to do … they were running (toward the sound of gunfire),” Ayers said. “These guys are stepping into a room, in a gun battle and then rendering aid and treatment to 19 little elementary school kids.”