BARTOW, Fla. (FOX 13) - The father of a 14-year-old girl killed in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last year is being trained for the school guardian program in Polk County.
Ryan Petty, who lost his daughter, Alaina last February, has been staying with his son in Riverview and commuting to Polk County to train. He has another week and a half to go.
The school guardian program is designed to train teachers and other existing school staff to carry a concealed weapon and respond during a shooting.
Petty said he has no plans to actually work at a school. However, assuming he meets all the requirements, he will be become an honorary school guardian. Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd says Petty would be the first person in the country to have that title.
"I will now be able to go back and say I have been through the training. I spent the hours in the classroom, on the range, in the simulator," Petty said.
He said he wants firsthand knowledge of what guardians go through, so he can defend the program to detractors.
"I think this is the best answer," he said. "It's that last line of defense for our kids and our teachers."
Petty says it's one thing to hear about the rigorous requirements for becoming a school guardian, but it's another to actually go through the training.
"We have been standing outside in almost 100-degree heat. I don't know how many rounds we shot, but I've got some wounds," Petty said, looking down at his bandaged hand. "To testify I have been putting in the time."
Petty will be awarded the title of honorary school guardian during a special ceremony within the next few months.