Maria Ortiz consoled her fifth-grade daughter, Crystal Godinez, outside Castle View Elementary School in Riverside, Calif. Officials said all students were accounted for as a man continued to hold a hostage inside the school. (Watchara Phomicinda/The Press-Enterprise via AP)
A father continued to hold a teacher hostage in a Southern California elementary school Tuesday as frantic parents rushed to the scene to pick up their children and hostage negotiators worked to coax the man into surrendering.
Police in Riverside, Calif., said the man got into a fight outside of Castleview Elementary about 11:20 a.m., hitting a staff member in the face. He then forced his way into the school, barricading himself inside a clbadroom with a female teacher, said Officer Ryan Railsback, spokesman for the Riverside Police Department during an afternoon news conference.
Four hours later, the man remained in the clbadroom with the teacher, Railsback said, refusing to heed calls from officers to come out.
“We are doing everything we can to safely and peacefully resolve this situation,” Railsback said.
The incident drew the SWAT team, which set up near the school in an armored vehicle, and agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Railsback said SWAT officers helped evacuate children and teachers to safety, taking them to nearby Castleview Park.
ATF Los Angeles special agents are responding to badist Riverside Police Dept. partners w/ law enforcement situation at elementary school pic.twitter.com/Li9DVkUhBY
— ATF HQ (@ATFHQ) October 31, 2017
Railsback said it was unclear if the man, whom he declined to identify, was armed. He said a small amount of smoke was seen coming from the clbadroom.
“It’s basically him refusing to come out, and he’s got a teacher in there so it’s a barricade or hostage situation,” Railsback said.
Justin Grayson, a spokesman for Riverside Unified School District, said schools in the district tightened security procedures after a shooting at an elementary school in San Bernardino earlier this year that left a teacher and elementary school student dead.
[‘He heard people yelling, ‘No, don’t!’’: Inside the murder-suicide in a San Bernardino clbadroom]
There is only one entrance into the school, which is ringed by a gate, and all visitors are required to sign in at the front office. But the parent physically pushed his way into the school, Grayson said.
“You had a parent who forced his way into the office and forced his way past staff,” Grayson said.