MAMARONECK, NY (PIX11) — “Everyone was just panicking, some of my friends were crying, they were really upset and scared and trying to leave immediately,” explained sixth grader Caroline Kwait of Larchmont.
Caroline and her sister Julia Kwait, in eighth grade, say they were worried when their principal announced a lockdown at their middle school just after lunchtime on Thursday.
“I was kind of scared because I didn’t know like what was going on,” said Caroline.
What the sisters and the rest of their 1200 classmates inside Hommocks Middle School did not know was that a guy with a gun had tried to get inside the school through the pool entrance.
Their father Jeff Kwait didn’t like the sound of that. “The fact that the person didn’t go thru the front door and went thru the back door, is a little alarming to me,” he told PIX 11.
Due to new security measures put in place since the Newtown shooting, all doors to all schools in the Mamaroneck District, are always locked now. So, when the armed man couldn’t get in through the pool entrance, he tried a different door but that was also locked. At that time, the campus supervisor approached him and asked for identification. He told her he was trying to get to the lost and found area because he lost an article of clothing.
The supervisor found him suspicious and noticed he may have something under his coat. She asked if he had a weapon and the man admitted that he did have one in his waistband but only because he works in the security field. The supervisor did not like the sound of that. While he wasn’t aggressive, the supervisor refused to let the man in the school. Now, students and administrators are calling the campus supervisor somewhat of a hero.
“I think that she did the right thing and stopped him from, like, hurting us,” said Julia Kwait.
Superintendent Dr. Robert Shaps agrees: “She did a marvelous job not only asking for the required I’d but questioning and noticing someone was walking around the school grounds with a weapon and that’s quite brave.”
Even though the armed man left without incident and did not return on Thursday, the Mamaroneck Superintendent is not taking any chances with school on Friday.
He requested extra police officers at all schools in the district.
“I think it’s reassuring, I think it sends a message, I think what we’re trying to say is that we work closely with the police to make sure things go smoothly,” said Shaps.
The girls’ father feels reassured, “At least they are doing what they have to do to make it as safe as possible.”
Even with a police presence, young Caroline is not completely comfortable with going back to classes tomorrow.
“I’m kinda nervous because I don’t know if he is going to come back and try to go in the building and do different things to get in,” she said.
The superintendent says he wants the man prosecuted to the fullest extent because he says it is a crime for an unauthorized person to be on school grounds with a weapon. He says police are investigating the incident as a crime and trying to track down the man responsible.