Comment: Crawley College heroes going above and beyond to protect others during a crisis

Most of us were shaken by the firearms incident at Crawley College this week.

Thursday, 29th April 2021, 12:11 pm

Most of us were shaken by the firearms incident at Crawley College this week.

Many of us went there, or have loved ones who work or study there now, and this was all very close to home.

Major incidents like this at schools and colleges are thankfully incredibly rare, and all the more shocking for it.

Armed officers attended the college after reports of shots being fired

The images of armed police swarming the building will certainly stay with us.

The scariest bit is often being caught up in an incident but not knowing exactly what is going on.

Art student Ruby Brumwell, 16, was sent with another student to another classroom to get something when the college went into lockdown following reports of shots being fired.

Her mum Sharon was alerted to the unfolding drama simply by a short text from her daughter.

Students and their parents gathered to watch as the drama unfolded on Monday

Sharon told us: “The first thing we got from her, which was really random, was ‘I love you’ and I replied, ‘you are not getting that hoodie’ because we had discussed her getting a new hoodie at the weekend.

“But she replied ‘tell Daddy I love him’ and I was like ‘are you alright, what’s going on?’.

“And she replied: ‘There’s something going on in the college. Don’t panic.’ So from then I was panicking.

“All of a sudden my office phone rang and it was someone I knew asking if Ruby was at the college. I thought ‘this is real’.

“I called my partner and he came and picked us up at 4pm. Then for some reason all communication stopped with Ruby so we didn’t know what was going on.”

The pair headed to the college, and watched the police in action, with a worried wait until at last they heard from Ruby again, and then she emerged safe and well.

While some details of what went on can’t be discussed or speculated on here because they may well form part of the evidence at a forthcoming trial, it has become clear that two members of the college staff risked their own safety to protect others, and suffered minor injuries in the process.

Their heroics, ‘tackling an armed suspect’ have been praised by the police and the college principal.

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.”

Crawley College Principal Vicki Illingworth added: “Their heroic actions – and the rapid response of emergency services – helped to protect our college community.”

She appealed for the media to respect their privacy, and we are happy to respect their wishes in the wake of such traumatic events - though we note that other media outlets have not.

Those involved all know who they are, and we add our thanks to those brave individuals whose instincts were to step into danger to protect others. They are truly heroes.