By Mila Besich-Lira
Superior, AZ – Shortly after 1 p.m. Thursday, April 4, 2013, first grade students at John F. Kennedy Elementary School reported to their teachers that they saw a woman behind the elementary school with a gun. The school immediately put the campus on lockdown and contacted the Superior Police Department. The suspects were seen during the lunch recess.
School officials and the SPD checked the school to ensure that there were no threats and began questioning witnesses. The suspect, a parent of one of the students, called the school and said she heard that she was the reason the school was on lockdown.
Superior Police Department met with the parent and the parent explained that she and another adult were behind the school on a quad but they were only there observing her son on the playground. She explained that her son had been telling her he was being bullied, and she was trying to keep an eye on things. The suspect explained that she did not have a gun with her. The reports that the suspect has a gun were unsubstantiated.
A teacher on duty had seen the adults behind the school and told them that they could not be back there and they left without incident. The teacher who had made contact with the adults did not see a gun. When several students reported to teachers that they saw the woman with a gun, the school entered into the lockdown and followed the procedures as stated by the policy. Once the area was secure and the suspect (parent) was being questioned SPD gave the okay to lift the lockdown. Students were all released at their normal release times and all afternoon practices and events went on as scheduled.
“This was a real-time test for the school crisis plan,” explained Officer Bartlett, one of the officers on the call. “Fortunately no one was injured and the plan worked as it was supposed to.”
Pinal County Sheriff’s deputies also responded to the call and assisted with the call.
“Our staff and faculty were on top of the situation,” said Billy Duarte, Vice Principal of the Superior Junior Senior High School. “I am very proud of our staff and relieved that our students were safe.”
Duarte also explained that parents who are concerned for their child’s safety or have reports of bullying need to let the school principal or lead teacher on the campus know about it. “Parents who want to visit their child on campus are required to check in with the office and get a visitor’s pass at all times.”