After shooting near school, Highlands Elementary says thank you to first responders

MISSION, Kan. -- More than two months after police say a gunman opened fire near their school, Highlands Elementary students said thank you the first responders who kept them safe.

The school's boys and girls made a special video for all emergency responders, but they especially had one DARE officer and his fellow officers in mind.

It was a terrifying day for students, teachers and staff that afternoon on March.

Police said 26-year-old Dyland Ruffin fired at officers and the Johnson County elementary just as school was letting out.

"It was controlled chaos," DARE officer Jay Fleer said.

Fleer said his experience and training helped keep that chaos from getting more out of control.

He's been a police officer for 27 years and on the Mission force for 12 years. For the last two years, he's worked as a DARE officer at Highlands.

Officers who fired shots at Ruffin said the 26-year-old pulled his trigger first.

"The staff did a really amazing job of keeping everybody calm under the circumstances," Fleer said.

Thankfully, no one at the school or in the neighborhood was hurt.

Now, two months later during National Police Week, the grateful boys and girls at Highlands Elementary thanked the brave first responders who kept them safe that frightening day.

"It definitely takes a lot of bravery," one student said.

The students showed Fleer and his fellow officers their cool tribute last week during a special moment before the kids' DARE graduation.

"Thank you for protecting our nation and protecting our school," another student said.

In the video, you can see the students have a lot of respect for first reponders. It definitely put a big smile on Fleer's face.

"These are my kids, you know," he said. "They're a big deal."

The kind kids said the officer they now call a hero is pretty awesome, too.

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