Elementary School Locks Down
as Police Search for Gunman
March 10, 2006, 07:41 PM EST
(Grand Island, NY, March 10, 2006) - - A Grand Island elementary school went into lockdown mode Friday after several students reported seeing a man with a gun. News 4's Alysha Palumbo reports it triggered an exhaustive police manhunt.
A Sheriff's helicopter hovered overhead and SWAT teams rolled in after three students reported seeing a man with a gun at Huth Road Elementary School on Grand Island.
New York State Police Lieutenant Kevin Baras said, "It appeared they observed a male subject in the woodline behind the school."
Just after 11:00 Friday morning, the school went into lockdown as SWAT teams combed the woods for a suspect.
Baras said, "The subject appeared to be suspicious and carrying some kind of object in his hand. At first glance, they believed it was some type of, maybe some longer type of handgun."
Erie County Sheriff's Captain Thomas Flaherty said, "It's a law enforcement safety issue. If this person does have a gun, we would just as soon address it with the appropriate personnel."
From Grand Island and State Police to Sheriff's deputies, the neighborhoods around the school were swarming with police.
But after an initial sweep of the grounds and the woods surrounding the school, officers turned up nothing.
One police official said, "There was a threat survey done on what the children told us. We analyzed the information that the children first described, and we felt it necessary, again, erring on the side of caution, to deploy the resources to eliminate that there was such a threat."
School was let out on time Friday afternoon, but the students left one busload at a time, as police continued to search the grounds.
Flaherty said, "We're hoping to get some definitive evidence whether or not there's a sign that there was a person in the woods in that area."
With the students out of the school, police conducted a second thorough sweep, just to make sure they hadn't missed anything.