A Colombian company that makes bulletproof vests now is creating armored clothing for children.
Factory owner Miguel Caballero said he never thought about making protective clothes for kids until requests came in after the deadly attack on Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut last month.
“After the tragedy in Connecticut, we started getting emails from customers asking for protected [clothing] because they were afraid to take their kids to school,” Caballero said.
“We have received messages from all over the United States” seeking the protective gear, added Giovanni Cordero, the company’s marketing director.
Products include child-sized armored vests, protective undershirts and backpacks with ballistic protection that can be used as shields.
The products are designed for children 8-16 years old and cost $150-$600 depending on the complexity of their construction. Each piece weighs 2-4 pounds.
“The products were created with the American market in mind, not for the Latino market,” said Caballero. “All the designs and colors, everything is thought out with them in mind.”
Caballero performed a test on a pink-and-yellow striped bulletproof backpack attached to a pale- blue protective vest, firing a 9mm pistol and a machine gun to show it could withstand a barrage of bullets.
He said the backpack-vest combo and other protective gear already have been ordered by a U.S. distributor, although he would not identify it.
About 250 people work at Caballero’s factory, which has been making armored vests for adults for more than 20 years. Colombia suffers from an internal conflict that has killed thousands of people over the past half-century.
Outside Colombia, the vests for adults are sold in some 20 countries, including Ecuador, Costa Rica and Mexico. They also are marketed in parts of Europe, Asia and the Middle East.