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(ROANOKE, Va.) — A Virginia man has developed an armored plate that he says can turn any child’s backpack into a bulletproof shield.

Norvell West, founder and co-owner of CW Armor in Roanoke, said he started making small plates that can fit into backpacks after a friend in law enforcement asked whether there were better ways to create portable bulletproof surfaces.

The armor is used to protect doors or rooms, but West cut it down to a size that can fit almost anywhere.

West said his friend and others also started to ask what could be done to protect children in school shootings. While the subject came up off and on for years, it took on greater urgency after the 2007 mass shooting at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg that left 33 dead.

“It was a kind of a culmination,” West said of the decision to create the small armor pieces.

While bulletproof whiteboards or specially designed backpacks have existed for years, West’s armor, which costs from $100 to $160, can be used almost anywhere and easily fits into a briefcase or messenger bag for adults.

“All of [the school shootings] are a national tragedy,” West said, adding that his son and daughter now carry armored backpacks. “None of us can seem to come up with an answer, so this is just our answer.”

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