Thursday, December 11, 2008

Gun man in schools

Less than a week when 19-year-old Robert A Hawkins killed eight people before turning his SRS assault rifle on himself in a Nebraska mall, school children in Down Under New Zealand were terrorised by a gunman as reported in the news article below.

I was in the midst of a lockdown myself in school. It was our lunch time and I was having lunch in the teachers' lounge when we heard the sirens of police cars and the police helicopter hovering over head. We looked out of the window and saw the police cars.

Some older children of Pt Chevailer school, in the skate park part of the school (by the lower car park), reported that they saw a man who had a pocket knife and a small shot gun. The two deputy principals, in the absence of the principal, called the Ponsonby Community Police station and ask for their advice of how to proceed.

They were directly through to the "Non urgent" police line at Auckland Central. The lady at Auckland Central took all of the details and then told me that the police were on the way. The police helicopter was circling the school looking for the person concerned. They also sent a police squad to investigate the houses along Buxton Street. The children were kept in a lockdown situation, that is sitting on the mat in a corner.

In the search they did find a neighbour who was using a long metal tooth cut saw, (that could have been what the boys saw) in the area behind the green fence on his property. The police were happy that the area was secure and there was no immediate danger that would ensue.

The "neighbour" that had been cited by the police and verbally abused the deputy principals, using every hideous swear word known to man, which was an incredibly hideous end to the already stressful situation.

It was quite frightening for the children not knowing exactly what was happening. But I was very glad that the police took such a drastic action to ensure the security of our children.

The angry man and his wife came back the next day using the F words. I guess they wanted to see the principal who was away the whole week. May be they wanted the school to pay compensation for being subjected to such an embarassment.

The New Zealand herald

Children locked in class as gunman roams
5:00AM Tuesday December 11, 2007

Two schools in Tokoroa went into "lockdown" mode yesterday morning when teachers and students saw a man wandering through the grounds brandishing what appeared to be a pistol.

He walked across the fields toward Maraetai Rd, before crossing the street and entering the Community Mental Health building at the hospital.

Police tracked him to the building and evacuated about 10 people from inside.

The armed offenders squad from Rotorua was called and after a short negotiation by loudspeaker a 34-year-old man gave himself up.

However the weapon the man was seen with was not found and police spent much of the day combing through rubbish at the local dump and checking stormwater drains.

Detective Sergeant Kevan Verry said that although no weapon had been located police had received information from a witness that it had been discarded in the area.

The arrested man was charged with illegal possession of an air pistol after admitting to carrying one, Mr Verry said.

Tokoroa Intermediate School principal Phil Straw said seeing a man with a gun had frightened teachers and pupils but offers of counselling would be made.

All classes were locked soon after the man was seen and nobody was allowed outside.

Teachers had acted professionally and calmly, Mr Straw said.

Phone calls were being made yesterday to parents to inform them.

Tokoroa High School principal Elgin Edwards said his school found out about the man only when the adjacent school phoned them to warn of what was unfolding.

"We extended our assembly for about an extra half-hour. We're thankful for the intermediate having the presence of mind to contact us but we would have expected the police would have done so.

"How can we respond to something if we don't know about it?"

Mr Verry said the drama unfolded after an altercation on Clyde St in Tokoroa. A person was approached by a group in a car and a fight took place. A short time later the car entered Tokoroa Intermediate by the back entrance on Billah St, and the man with the gun is understood to have exited the vehicle.

No comments: