Students and staff at an elementary school in California were safely evacuated Tuesday after a disturbance involving a parent who allegedly barricaded himself inside a classroom with a female teacher. The suspect was shot by police and later pronounced dead at a hospital, police said.
According to Riverside police, the incident started just before noon when the suspect stormed into the school. The man, identified by police as 27-year-old Luvelle Kennon of Riverside, allegedly punched a substitute teacher in the face and broke his nose before taking the female teacher hostage.
Officer Ryan Railsback said that officers and SWAT team members isolated the classroom and then helped to evacuate students and staff.
Negotiators had not heard from the victim while talking to the suspect, so the decision was made to go in and rescue her, police said.
The teacher was also transported to a hospital after being rescued, but suffered only minor injuries, according to the Riverside Police Department.
The motive was unknown.
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Riverside Unified School District said that all students at Castle View Elementary had been accounted for, were safe and had been reunited with parents or guardians with proper photo identification. Students were in lunch at the time and not in the classroom, officials said.
“Our officers responded up to Castle View Elementary School … for some type of disturbance, possibly involving one of the parents. When they arrived, they learned that there was some type of altercation that occurred and now a parent was barricaded inside one of the classrooms with what we believe is a teacher,” Railsback said during a news conference Tuesday.
Railsback said authorities were not sure why the parent was at the school or whether there had been previous issues with the parent at the school. He also said police did not know if the parent had a weapon in the classroom with him.
“As far as we know, nothing’s been reported that anyone saw actual weapons of any kind,” he said. “He’s not responding to our commands for him to come out, so far. … He’s barricaded himself in there and he’s got a teacher in there so it’d be a barricaded hostage situation.”
Justin Grayson, a Riverside Unified School District spokesman, said the parent forced his way past an entrance-exit point and the substitute teacher was injured trying to intervene.
Carl Jackson, who told Los Angeles ABC station KABC he was the suspect’s uncle, said, “He had a breakdown, and he relapsed again. That’s all, he’s not dangerous.” Family members told KABC they had taken Kennon’s car keys away that morning, but he had found a way to get to the school anyway.
Worried parents rushed to the school to reunite with their children.
“I got there literally minutes after supposedly it (the incident) started to happen,” SandiKay Barber-Alvarez told ABC station KABC-TV. “Every unit known to man showed up. Praise God for our Riverside PD.”
Police said Castle View Elementary School would be closed for the rest of the week and counselors were available.
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ABC News: U.S.