SAN ANTONIO-- Alamo Heights police say the search continues for the caller who sent an elementary school into lockdown Monday morning…and the students’ parents out of their minds for awhile.
For the most part, many of the kids thought it was just another lockdown drill at Cambridge Elementary.
But it was an emotional roller-coaster for the families on the outside looking in.
“We couldn’t get here fast enough,” said Monica Delgado, a parent who spent the weekend talking to her two fearful daughters about school safety in light of the Connecticut massacre.
For the Delgados and dozens of other families, it wasn’t your typical after-school pickup.
The hugs were stronger, and there were tears.
Tina Martinez added, “I want to take him home and make sure he’s safe. I didn’t want to bring him to school this morning with everything that happened.”
Parents had been waiting for hours near the campus, surrounded by police crime tape.
A district-wide email and phone blast alerted them to a phone call made to the school.
School administrators say in a 30-minute rant, the caller threatened to harm the children.
“It was fairly unspecific, but we took it very seriously,” said Dr. Kevin Brown, the superintendent at Alamo Heights ISD.
With visions of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting still fresh in their minds, parents grappled with the implications of a lockdown. That sparked an impromptu prayer chain on the street corner.
“It’s the only thing we could do is pray. And ask God to protect them,” said one parent.
Meantime, SWAT, ATF and K-9 units scoured the classrooms and campus, while students remained inside.
That didn’t sit well with parents who peppered the superintendent and police chief with questions.
One parent shouted, “How is it that you can tell us our child is safer in the school than with their own parent in their car or in their home?”
“Trust me on this: The children are safe where they are right now,” Chief Richard Pruitt replied.
Five hours later, the “all-clear” was given, and the parents’ prayers were answered.
“I’m just going to hold him and hug him. I don’t even know if I want to send him back to school,” said Dora Bacaldua.
The school district and police say the caller may be tied to other non-specific threats that have plagued the San Antonio area in the last several months.
Once the lockdown was lifted Brown released the following statement via email:
Parents - The police have ascertained that the phone threat this morning was not credible. The district and police used an abundance of caution in locking down the school. At this time, we are lifting the lock-down at all campuses. School will continue to operate as normal for the remainder of the day and dismissal will occur at normal times. Police will continue to investigate this case, and it is possible this is linked to other phone threats made to other places in the past. We will continue to cooperate with police.
Now that the lock down has been lifted, we know that some parents want to come pick their children up from school early. Although we know they are safe at school, and we encourage them to stay in school until the end of the day, parents are allowed to pick their children up by checking in at the front office. All campuses will follow normal dismissal procedures.
Thank you for your patience today. In spite of the threat, school has been calm and the children and teachers have been wonderful.
For the remainder of the week, we will have a police presence at all campuses. Otherwise, schools will follow their normal routines.
It is sad that someone would make a call and disrupt our schools. Schools sometimes get threatening phone calls, and it is unsettling to all of us. However, while we have to follow safety protocols at school on a daily basis, very few phone threats turn out to be legitimate. It is important for us to be mindful of how we talk about this with our children and to model calmness for them.
We love our children and so appreciate your patience and support today. We also thank our district staff, law enforcement officials, and parents for handling this day so well. They did a great job! Please let our staff know if we can help you in any way.