WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Students returned to Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts in West Palm Beach on Monday, just three days after a police officer shot and killed a former student who crashed a van through a locked entrance on campus.
A bouquet of flowers could be seen Monday outside the school's auditorium where police said Roman Phelps, 33, "violently attacked" a West Palm Beach police officer, who was forced to shoot Phelps.
There also appeared to be extra law enforcement officers on campus Monday, with at least two Palm Beach County school police vehicles and one West Palm Beach police cruiser out front.
The School District of Palm Beach County said additional mental health counselors are on campus to help students and staff members who are struggling with the incident.
"I'm very pleased and impressed with our team's response," Superintendent Mike Burke of the School District of Palm Beach County said Monday. "Principal Blake and her staff there, they had trained for this. They had a plan in place and they executed it flawlessly."
Burke added the school district worked over the weekend to restore the campus. He met with top officials Monday to review what was accomplished and the plans in place for the next few days.
"Everything is in good shape," Burke said.
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According to friends, Phelps once attended Dreyfoos School of the Arts and cherished the school, which may have been what brought him there on May 13.
"He was a disturbed individual," said Skylar Meany. "A Dreyfoos alumni theater student, he just wanted help, sought help, and it wasn’t given to him."
Meany is one of the few people who saw and talked with Phelps in the hours leading up to him crashing a van at Dreyfoos. Meany said he saw Phelps on May 12 and he was acting strange, couldn’t speak, and was breathing heavily.
Meany said the police came and Phelps went to the hospital, but not for long.
According to Meany, Phelps told his friend the drugs the hospital gave him didn’t slow him down.
The next day, West Palm Beach police said Phelps rammed his van through a locked entrance on campus, then ran and resisted attempts to stop him, including "violently attacking" a police officer, before being shot.
"We use a lot of chain link fences," Burke said at a news conference Friday following the police-involved shooting. "Dreyfoos School of the Arts is gonna go through a facility renewal, and there will probably be some changes. But there's no immediate plan to run out and change it. We have gates at 179 schools across our campuses. They're locked and secured, and this is a rare event."
In a call to parents on Friday, Principal Blake Bennett said that "during the police incident on our campus today, everyone adhered to the procedures we put in place and have practiced to keep everyone safe."
Bennett added that students who left their belongings behind during the chaotic moments can pick them up on Monday.
"We will all be available to support our students when they return to campus and in our usual Dreyfoos fashion, we will all work through this together," Bennett said.
"Principal Blake is working with her students to get them to the end of the school year in the most compassionate, caring manner as possible," Burke said Monday, adding that the Dreyfoos School of the Arts graduation is Friday at 1 p.m.
Several investigations are now underway, including those by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and State Attorney's Office.