Praise for teacher and colleague who tackled armed suspect at Crawley College

Michael Drummond, PA South East Correspondent
·3-min read

The heroics of a teacher and their colleague who were injured tackling an armed suspect have been praised by police.

Students and staff had to be evacuated with their hands on their heads after shots rang out at Crawley College, West Sussex, on Monday.

One pupil told the PA news agency how her teachers came inside and said “get out now, someone’s got a gun”.

The college’s principal praised the “heroic actions” of staff along with the rapid response from emergency services.

Inquiries into the incident continued on Tuesday and officers searched a home in the local area.

Police activity at Crawley College, West Sussex
Police activity at Crawley College, West Sussex (Yui Mok/PA)

An 18-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of firearms offences following the incident and a blank firing handgun and a knife were seized.

Local officers were liaising with counter-terror specialists on Monday evening but later announced that it is not being treated as a terrorist incident.

Police have confirmed that it was a teacher and a member of support staff – both college employees – who tackled the “suspect” during the incident.

A video shared on Snapchat seen by PA appears to show someone being held on the ground by several others outside the college, while the person holding the camera says “my man had a knife and a gun”.

Chief Inspector Shane Baker said: “I’d personally like to thank everyone who helped to quickly bring this incident to a safe conclusion, especially the two members of college staff whose heroics have not gone unnoticed.

“They put themselves in harm’s way in order to protect their students, fellow employees and the wider public, and I am hugely grateful for their quick-thinking actions.

“During this, they sustained minor injuries – not gunshot wounds – and presented themselves to a walk-in medical centre.

“Thankfully, no other injuries were reported, and no damage was caused by the blank shots fired.”

The incident in Crawley saw significant numbers of armed police dispatched after officers received multiple calls shortly after 3.10pm of reports of gunshot fire at the college.

Ketisha, an aeronautical engineering student at Crawley College, recalled the moment she heard gunshots during a class.

She told PA: “I was in the workshop doing some machinery and there was a lot of like banging, and because the college has a lot of different courses like construction and stuff I just thought somebody was doing their normal class until two of my teachers came inside and closed the door and said, ‘Get out now, someone’s got a gun’.

“So then we all just got out and we were by the main gate, the main entrance and he was in the car park not too far (away) and he shot again and we all just ran different ways.

“I ran to the police station with a few of my classmates because I was absolutely terrified.”

Vicki Illingworth, Crawley College principal, said: “Our college community was shaken by the actions that occurred yesterday afternoon.

“I cannot praise the courage, resilience and support shown by our staff enough. They have been incredible and the care and compassion they shared with our students and with each other continues to fill me with admiration.

“We can confirm two members of our staff did sustain some minor injuries, which were not gunshot wounds.

“Their heroic actions – and the rapid response of emergency services – helped to protect our college community.”