LOS ANGELES (CNS) - In the wake of the shooting that killed at least 27 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, the Los Angeles Police Department beefed up patrols around city schools today and coordinated security efforts with school police.
"There is no indication of a connection with Los Angeles," LAPD Cmdr. Andy Smith said. "We train with and work with school police on an ongoing basis, and we will be providing extra patrols around schools -- especially elementary schools -- today."
Among the dead were at least 18 children and the gunman, who was tentatively identified as 24-year-old New Jersey resident Ryan Lanza, whose mother may have been a teacher at the school and one of the victims.
"When we see incidents like this, it just seems like they are an evil person," Smith said. "To do this to children? What kind of a monster does this to children?"
Los Angeles Unified School District officials assured parents that the safety of students and parents is the district's "number one priority."
In Los Angeles, a vigil in memory of the victims, sponsored by Project Islamic HOPE, is expected to begin at 5 p.m. in Leimert Park at 3415 W. 43rd Place.
LAPD Lt. Paul Vernon said police officers train on an ongoing basis regarding "an active shooter situation at a school or other venue like a shopping center."
"Since the Columbine High School shooting, law enforcement has generally adopted the tactic of an immediate entry to the school to confront an active shooter," Vernon said.
Vernon urged people watch for "warning signs" of possible impending violence.
"One thing the public can do to help guard against these incidents is to be alert to warning signs of (a) person's behavior that might lead to this kind of (violent) response," Vernon said. "After-action studies of shootings often reveal that signs of depression, anger, planning, bragging, (or) threatening were ignored."
Vernon also urged people to "hug your kids and loved ones today when you see them next."
"These tragic incidents can happen anywhere at any time," Vernon said.
"Help your kids put these incidents in perspective so they don't become overwhelmed," Vernon said. "Our kids tend to adopt our own response and reaction to such incidents."