School resource officer Anthony Justice warned students and teachers of an approaching tornado (Pictures: WKRN)
A school resource officer is being hailed as a hero after he saw a tornado forming in the distance and alerted students and teachers to take cover before it ripped through the grounds. Anthony Justice said he was in the parking lot in Cumberland County, Tennessee, on Thursday afternoon when he saw the storm heading his direction.
‘I saw a big cloud coming towards me. It was spinning, it was spinning, and I thought hmmm, that’s coming awful quick and then I heard it’, Justice told WKRN. ‘I started screaming at them and the teachers to get back in the building, there’s a tornado coming’!
About 40 cross-country runners were in the lot at the time that the wind and rain came in, the Pleasant Hill Elementary School resource officer said. They all made it into the school building thanks to Justice’s warning.
The EF-0 tornado passed over the school and damaged the Pleasant Hill Community Church events building across the street. Winds reached about 80 miles per hour and ‘it appears that it just hit in this one specific area’, Cumberland County Sheriff Casey Cox told the TV station. The storm bent a metal entryway and uprooted trees.
A tornado passed over Pleasant Hill Elementary School in Tennessee (Picture: WKRN)
The church’s executive director, Herschel Murner, said it was ‘a little bit of a shock’ how quickly the tornado tore through without any warning or natural disaster cell phone notification.
‘Nothing. It just happened that quickly and was going quickly’, Murner told the station.
Cumberland County Director of Schools Ina Maxwell said the tornado struck ‘during dismissal time, so we had students on school buses in front of the school building’.
Some of the children in the buses suffered minor cuts and scrapes but there were no major injuries, said Maxwell, who expressed her gratitude to Justice.
“Buildings can be replaced. Lives can’t’, Maxwell said. ‘And we are just very fortunate’.
Justice said: ‘I was just doing my job. That is my job’.
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