L.A. schools locked down over man seen in tactical gear; suspect arrested
by: Marc Sternfield, Chris Wolfe, Vivian Chow
Posted: Aug 29, 2023 / 11:50 AM PDT
Updated: Aug 29, 2023 / 10:42 PM PDT
A man was taken into custody Tuesday afternoon in connection with a suspicious incident that forced the lockdown of several Los Angeles schools, police said.
Around 9:30 a.m., police received a report of a man riding a scooter wearing full tactical gear near Mount Gleason Middle School in Sunland, an LAPD spokesperson told KTLA.
He allegedly walked into a Vons supermarket in Tujunga and told an employee he planned to fire shots at Verdugo Hills High School.
No weapon was seen. However, the incident prompted the lockdown of Mount Gleason M.S., Plainview Avenue Elementary, Verdugo Hills High School, Mount Lukens Continuation High, Apperson Elementary School and Pinewood Early Education Center.
The suspect was reportedly dressed in tactical gear including a helmet and a vest with a handgun strapped to his waist.
Administrators alerted parents that their children’s classrooms were on lockdown while news of the lockdown spread across social media.
“It just sucks because they go to school and they’re supposed to be learning, but instead they’re spending all day in a classroom, making sure they’re not killed,” said Meghan Yudico, a Plainview Academy parent.
Her 1st-grade son, Miguel, recalls the lockdown incident earlier that day.
“The police came to our classroom to see if we were safe,” he said. Miguel recalled not being able to nap at all “because all of that thinking was making me nervous.”
As police and bystanders struggled to determine whether the man was armed, students and teachers spent hours hunkered down in their classrooms.
We stayed in the classroom,” recalled Nathan Tapia, a 6th grader at Mount Gleason Middle School. “[Our teacher] said to stay down and be quiet.”
“I’m watching all the helicopters from my balcony flying over the schools,” Megan recalled. “My kid’s in the classroom and I just want him to get out.”
Around 3:30 p.m., SWAT officers with their guns drawn surrounded a home on Helendale Avenue near Hillrose Street, roughly two blocks from Verdugo Hills H.S.
A man wearing shorts and a blue t-shirt was taken into custody, Sky5 video showed. The suspect was not found wearing tactical gear or riding a scooter as first reported.
The Vons employee who witnessed the suspect told KTLA the man had previously been spotted shopping at the market but never threatened anyone.
The school lockdown was downgraded to a “shelter in place” early in the afternoon and classes were dismissed without incident.
Following the suspect’s arrest, limited details were released and no reports of any firearms have been reportedly found so far.
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