Veterans and parents protect a Mankato elementary school from run-away gunman

15-20 community members came to the Washington Elementary, all unarmed, with a common goal of taking care of the children still inside.
School Protectors
Published: Sep. 17, 2022 at 5:40 PM CDT
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - During an active shooting scene and shelter-in-place near Echo street on Friday morning, several entities went into lockdown, including Washington Elementary school.

That’s when a handful of local community members, parents, and veterans showed resilience against the lone gunman on the run by surrounding and protecting the school.

“We’re not trying to intervene with police, we’re not trying to do anything like that,” said school protector and former combat veteran Eric Berg. “What we’re doing is--we’re looking at the secondary. What are secondary targets for somebody who is not in the right state of mind.”

Without any coordination or structure, about 15-20 community members came to the Washington elementary, all unarmed, with a common goal of taking care of the children still inside.

Even if that meant going head-to-head with a potentially dangerous person.

“And it’s not someone who’s maybe setting out to do harm to the school or kids,” said school protector and former Marines veteran Jack Culbertson Jr. “But it’s someone who’s desperate and there’s a targeted opportunity. And if we can be that opportunity instead of the kids, then that’s great.”

Eric Berg and Jack Culbertson, who both just happened to be veterans, were two of the many members who decided to stand their ground and protect Washington elementary school.

The men and most of the members had not known each other prior to Friday morning.

“We were literally just present, and that was enough to just give a little peace of mind,” said Culbertson. “Just parents out here talking about their day on the sidewalk, and everyone looking at an angle to make sure that we were good.”

After seeing an explosive amount of support from social media, Berg and Culbertson talked about plans for handling situations, like an active shooter, in the future.

“We don’t need permission to protect our kids,” said Culbertson. “If there’s danger in the community, we should have a priority, some type of response.”

Berg expressed his gratitude toward the community’s rapid response in the midst of Fridays intense events.

“Whether it’s just, ‘hey, someone is coming towards the school, we need to stop them right now,’ that’s how we handle it,” said Berg. “It was really cool to see the community come together like that.”