TOWSON, Md. (WJZ)—Hundreds of students at a nearby school were placed on lockdown during the incident.
Meghan McCorkell has more from students and parents there.
St. Pius X school shares a driveway with WMAR-TV, so soon as the calls started coming in that a suspect repeatedly rammed a truck in the building, the school was put on lockdown.
The incident at WMAR happened just before noon. A sea of police cars and snipers in the bushes right in front of their children’s school. Terrified parents rushed to St. Pius X Catholic School in Towson. The front steps of the school are just yards away from where that truck careened through WMAR’s lobby.
“We’re thinking about the kids, what’s going through their minds. How are they reacting? The school is hot; I can’t even imagine,” said one parent.
“I’ve received one message from the school that everyone is safe but as of now, we don’t know when anyone’s going to be released,” said Kristen Martignetti.
As helicopters circled overhead, teachers sheltered students in place following the incident while police stood guard at the building.
After hours on lockdown, the school evacuated students one by one to their parents. With police escorts, the school released students through a back alleyway.
This email was sent by the school’s principal to parents about dismissal early Tuesday afternoon:
“At this time, St. Pius X School is still on lockdown. We continue to communicate with Baltimore County Police and the Archdiocese of Baltimore. All of the students and staff continue to be safe. We are coordinating with the police to plan for dismissal. There will be NO After Care today because we need to have all students and staff dismissed while the police are able to assist with this. Because York Road continues to be shut down, we will be dismissing via Overbrook Road (the one way street to the north of Pius). We are asking if your child’s last name begins with A-L that you try to arrive beginning at 2:30 p.m. If your child’s last name begins with M-Z, we ask that you plan to arrive beginning at 3 p.m. We know that it travel time is necessary and we will continue to keep all students safe until someone arrives to pick them up.
“When you drive onto Overbrook near St. Pius, please look for the police car and await instructions. Mrs. Ripley or Mrs. Dates will also be with the police to assist with dismissal. Once you arrive your student will be called to come down to you. Please do not get out of your car and try to come up to the school. This will slow down dismissal. The Police will be here to assist with this but this will require the patient and understanding of all. We will be calling students as you arrive. This will enable us to keep everyone safe and to dismiss.”
The suspect, who officials say is mentally ill, has since been taken into custody.
But the wait, as officers combed the building in search of the suspect, was nerve-racking.
“I’m a little shocked and obviously concerned. I don’t wanna leave the area,” one mother said.
Holding hands, deputies began walking children away from the school at 2:30 p.m.
“My wife is at work hysterical. She’s calm and I’m calm now,” said Derrick Drummond, father.
He’s calm now because his daughter, Madi, is safe.
“I had to go in the cloakroom and hide in there,” said Madisson Drummond, first grader. “We heard someone say there was a lockdown and we had to go in the coat room and hide.”
The school principal had a lot more on her mind.
“The safety of the kids is the most important, and they’ve been great. And the county police have been fantastic, so we’re just going to get everybody out and safe this afternoon,” said Maggie Dates, St. Pius X School principal.
St. Pius is a faith-based school. So at times of trouble, the children are taught to ask for help.
“I prayed three times. No, four times. I prayed for me to be safe and that everyone in the school to be safe,” Madi said.
School staff members were also escorted to their cars by police.
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