|During the lockdown|
Officers calm parents and explain the situation during a lockdown at Rancho Viejo and Salida del Sol.
|Lockdown at Rancho Viejo|
Rancho Viejo kids are in the process of being bussed to Suverkrup, where parents can pick them up. Salida del Sol and WACOG remain under lockdown.
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4-hour lockdowns lifted after no gun found
Update 6:25 p.m. - Three Yuma schools were placed on lockdown for just over four hours Tuesday and searched by police in response to a report of a student possibly having a gun on campus.
According to Yuma Police Department spokeswoman Sgt. Leanne Worthen no gun was actually found.
Worthen said officers responded to Rancho Viejo Elementary School, 1020 S. Avenue C, at about 9:55 a.m. after a student reported to administration that she thought she saw another student with a gun. The school then reported the incident to the police.
Rancho Viejo, along with nearby Salida del Sol and the WACOG Head Start preschool were placed on lockdown as soon as the report was made. The Yuma County Sheriff’s Office and the Yuma Sector Border Patrol also responded to the call and had units on the scene.
"This morning, school administration received a report of a possible gun on campus. School officials contacted Yuma police and followed practiced procedures of going into immediate lockdown, with the primary concern being the safety and well-being of our students and staff," Crane School District Superintendent Bob Klee said during a press conference after the lockdown had been lifted.
"As superintendent, I’m very pleased with the response of our students and staff from both schools. They followed procedures and everything went as smoothly as possible and nobody was harmed."
Throughout the ordeal, parents were lined up across the street from the school on Avenue C, many visibly shaken and crying. One of those parents was Israel Rosales, who has children at both Salida Del Sol and Rancho Viejo.
"I rushed over here from my job as soon as I found out. A friend called me and told me there were a lot police cars around the school but didn’t know what was going on."
Rosales, who handed out bottles of water that he had in his vehicle to other parents while they waited, said he planned to pull his children out of school for a few days and was not pleased with the way the schools handled the incident.
"I called the schools, but they wouldn’t release any information. It’s very frustrating. It’s like we are on the outside looking in and the only thing we can do is worry. I’m wondering what my kids are going through. I know they are scared."
Throughout the situation, parents were encouraged to go to the cafeteria of nearby H.L. Suverkrup School, where Crane district officials were giving out information as it was being made available.
Meanwhile, Yuma police tried to keep the parents who had gathered on scene informed, explaining was happening as the schools were searched and the students evacuated.
"We know there are a lot of concerned parents. But you have to take these types of reports seriously," Worthen said. "We had to conduct a methodical and systematic search of two schools, to make sure there wasn’t a gun."
The lockdown was lifted first at Rancho Viejo Elementary School at about 11:50 a.m. Parents were told that school buses had been brought in and their children were being taken to H.L. Suverkrup, where they could be picked up.
Suverkrup was crowded as parents from Rancho Viejo Elementary and Salida Del Sol Elementary waited anxiously to pick up their children.
Kimberly Grable, a parent of a sixth-grade student at Rancho Viejo, said that after receiving a notification of the incident through her phone and also via email, she immediately drove over to Suverkrup.
She said the waiting game was hard as the information came in slowly at times.
"It’s scary, just not knowing what they were doing ... Then we heard they were going to release them class by class, which to me made sense for accountability purposes. It was hot and we were kind of getting information trickled in, but my thinking is the faculty and the teachers were focusing on the students," Grable said.
"I know there were some frustrated parents but at the same time ... I’ll stand out here for five hours in the hot sun because I know they’re taking care of the kids and making sure that they’re safe."
She added that she appreciated the precautions that the schools took. "Sometimes I kind of feel like, you don’t want to scare people, but sometimes things like this will help put better practices into place."
Grable said she was also grateful that the school staff came out to give those who were waiting some juice and water.
Her daughter Allison, 12, said the lockdown started while she was in P.E. class and it was scary. Allison said she helped to calm her classmates during the lockdown.
Mirna Escobedo, who has two daughters at the WACOG Head Start preschool that was under lockdown as well as a daughter at Rancho Viejo and a son at H.L. Suverkrup, said she drove over as soon as she heard the news around 11 a.m.
"I was concerned if it was true, what they said about the gun, if they found it or they didn’t or it was just a misunderstanding. I still don’t know," she said at 3 p.m. on Tuesday.
Escobedo said she was nervous about how things would all play out because things like this don’t usually happen at their schools, but she was very relieved to get her children back safe.
Her daughter, Naomi, 10, said she was at Rancho Viejo when the lockdown first began and she was scared even though they were told it was just a drill.
"Now I feel really safe. I was really happy that the police were there and they kept on telling us that it was pretend because I stopped getting scared for a little while."
The lockdown was lifted at Salida del Sol and at the WACOG preschool shortly after 2 p.m. Students from Salida del Sol were loaded on to buses heading to Suverkrup while parents of the preschool were allowed to pick up their children in front of the school.
Update 3:16 p.m. - Superintendent Klee: School just had a practice lockdown last week.
Update 3:12 p.m. - Press briefing at Crane administrative offices - YPD officials say no gun was found, no one was injured and school and officers worked well together.
Update, 2:54 p.m. - The lockdown has been lifted at Salida Del Sol and the surrounding preschools.
Update, 2:46 p.m. - Suverkrup students will be released at the Mormon church just west of that school. Parents of HLS students may get them there.
Update 2:09 p.m. - The lockdown has now been lifted for students at the WACOG Preschool and parents can pick up their children in front of Salida del Sol.
Update, 2:03 p.m. - Update from the City of Yuma, Salida del Sol students are now being loaded on busses heading to Suverkrup. Parents may pick them up there.
Parents with children at WACOG Preschool, 930 S. Avenue C, will be able to pick up their children at WACOG once the lockdown is lifted.
Update, 12:57 p.m. - According to the City of Yuma, Salida del Sol students will also be bused to Suverkrup once search there is complete. No time estimate on that.
Update, 12:44 p.m. - Update on the Yuma school lockdown situation: Media outlets from Phoenix are reporting that a gun was found. However, that is NOT true. Rancho Viejo kids are in the process of being bussed to Suverkrup, where parents can pick them up. Salida del Sol and WACOG remain under lockdown.
Update,11:51 a.m. - YPD says parents of Rancho Viejo students only can pick them up at H.L. Suverkrup, 16th Street and Avenue C. Salida Del Sol students are still being held at the school, pending further information.
Update, 11:44 a.m. - YPD is asking that motorists avoid Avenue C between 8th Street and 12th Street. Daisy Street is also closed between Avenue C and Echo Lane as the search continues at Rancho Viejo School.
Check back with YumaSun.com as this story continues to unfold.
Update: 11:30 a.m. - YPD spokeswoman Leanne Worthen: “We know there are a lot of concerned parents. We are doing a systematic search of the school, which does take time. ... We are evacuating students, and we will let parents know as soon as we have information available about where parents can collect their children.” YPD notes that no one has been hurt, and they have not located a gun at this time, but they are still searching and clearing the campus.
Check back with YumaSun.com as this story continues to unfold.
Update, 10:50 a.m. - YPD says parents or guardians looking for information about the schools under lockdown may meet in the cafeteria at H.L. Suverkrup, 1590 S. Avenue C.
Posted 10:30 a.m. - Three schools in Yuma are currently on lockdown after Yuma police responded to a call of a student possibly with a gun at Rancho Viejo Elementary School, 1020 S. Avenue C.
Several schools are currently in lockdown: Rancho Viejo Elementary School, 1020 S. Avenue C, Salida Del Sol Elementary School, 910 S. Avenue C, WACOG Preschool, 930 S. Avenue C. The Crane School District has also been informed of the lockdown. A lock-down is when all students are held in a certain classroom or location until such time as it is deemed safe to move about the campus.
YPD responded to the call at 9:55 a.m. this morning.
YPD asks all parents and guardians to please remain away from the schools until police have completed the search and have lifted the lockdown.
Yuma police officers are still on scene.
YPD encourages anyone with any further information about this case to call YPD at (928) 783-4421 or 78-Crime to remain anonymous.
Check back with YumaSun.com for details as this story develops.