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Old 12-21-03, 01:37 PM   #1
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To close to home

Sometimes theings hit very close to home.


http://heraldnet.com/Stories/03/12/19/17920692.cfm

Published: Friday, December 19, 2003

Armed man bursts into school
Nine Terrace students treated for pepper spray after his arrest

By Diana Hefley
Herald Writer

MOUNTLAKE TERRACE -- An armed man on the run from police burst inside a Mountlake Terrace Elementary School classroom filled with students Thursday before an officer was able to wrestle him to the ground and subdue him with pepper spray.

"It could have been so horrendous," Police Chief Scott Smith said. "The bravery and restraint of the officer saved the day."

No one was seriously hurt. Nine students were taken to Stevens Hospital after being exposed to the spray. Those students were treated and released.

"We feel very fortunate how it all played out," Edmonds School District spokeswoman Debbie Jakala said.

The incident started just before 8:30 a.m. Thursday near 220th Street SW and 52nd Avenue W., where the officer was patrolling the school zone.

The suspect drove by the officer, who ran the Brier man's license plate number and learned he had a suspended driver's license and was wanted for two outstanding warrants, including being a felon in possession of a firearm and possession of stolen property, Smith said.

The officer attempted to stop the man but he drove on and doubled back to the school, where he drove up onto a sidewalk about 10 feet from children. He jumped out of his minivan and ran into a classroom of 20 fifth- and sixth-graders, Smith said.

The officer chased him, noticing the man reaching for something in his waistband, Smith said.

"It's unclear if he was reaching for it or trying to keep it from falling," he said.

The officer tackled the suspect just as he entered the classroom, sprayed him with pepper spray and handcuffed him.

The officer found a fully loaded semiautomatic handgun and a box of ammunition in the man's pants.

The suspect was booked into the Snohomish County Jail under investigation for a felon possessing a firearm and eluding police.

School principal Doug Pierce said it all happened so quickly there was no time for a full lockdown. Pierce saw the man jump from the van and was just calling for teachers to lock their classrooms when the suspect ran into Room 16.

"The teacher had all the kids in the front of the classroom and down on the floor, shielded by the tables," Pierce said. "She was calling 911 while the officer struggled with him."

Pierce said he was impressed with the quick response from police and firefighters. He also said the incident taught him and his staff that their school might need changes to be safer.

Pierce will reconsider keeping the exterior classroom doors locked. The school was built in the 1960s, and classrooms have two doors, one to a main corridor and one to the outside.

"We do lockdown drills but until you're in the middle of situation like this, you don't know if you've missed anything," he said.

Linda Carlson, the grandmother of a sixth-grade girl taken to the hospital, said the incident was disconcerting, but likely unavoidable.

"I felt like our kids were traumatized," she said. "But you can't stop something like this from going on. The first place someone like this is going to go is a school, because that's where you can take the most hostages."


Reporter Victor Balta contributed to this report.



My neice Alexa was one of the students taken to the hospital. Physically she is alright, emotionally well she isn't sleeping at night right now.
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Old 12-21-03, 05:39 PM   #2
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I'm happy that nobody was hurt...except for the bad guy. He should have to bath in pepper spray for many years for threatening children. That officer should be commended for his quick action. I'm sorry that your niece was in that situation. i can only imagine my feelings if my niece were in a similar situation. I'm just thankful all the kids are OK. Anyone that threatens a kid should burn.
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Old 12-21-03, 10:07 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ngateguy
"It could have been so horrendous," Police Chief Scott Smith said. "The bravery and restraint of the officer saved the day."

My neice Alexa was one of the students taken to the hospital. Physically she is alright, emotionally well she isn't sleeping at night right now.
Sometimes, it boils down to one man/woman who is alert.

I'm glad Alexa is ok.
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Old 12-21-03, 11:33 PM   #4
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Damn, I hope all is well. At least the scum got what was coming for him.
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Old 12-22-03, 03:09 AM   #5
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Thats sad when all someone can do is hurt kids. When they are the ones not in the wrong. I happy that youe neice is Ok and hope she can sleep easy soon.
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Old 12-22-03, 12:20 PM   #6
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Thanks everybody from what I hear Alexa is doing better still not sleeping through the night but is sleeping. My sis says its a good thing that school is out for a couple weeks it may help her. She did go back on Friday with no problems. But then again she is a pretty strong little girl (already survived a vicious dog attack when she was 5.) The best punishment I have heard so far fro this guy is 10 minutes in a locked room with all the parents. He is being held in jail with a $250,000 bail. The cop has this whole towns respect he was really on the ball and was not going to let this guy do any harm inside that school. The really sad thing about this is now the elementary school is probably going to lock itself down for a while.
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Old 12-22-03, 01:28 PM   #7
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I am really really really glad to hear she's okay. when I first saw the thread and the size of the article, I thought, oh no. I can see where this is going. but it's good to be wrong.

I hope this doesn't have too damaging an effect on the kids, but might perhaps turn out to be a positive factor in their character? I mean, obviously one would rather these things not to have happened, but since it did, who knows but that one day it will be one of the building blocks of their maturity. like you said, Alexa already is one tough little girl!

I think we all wish we can keep every particle of these people and their effects out of our kids' lives, but it's reality, and I'm glad somebody anticipated something like this. it's good to know there was preparation here that met opportunity, and that training was put to good use.

sigh,

alex.
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