Principal attacked in elementary school - WFLA News Channel 8

Principal attacked in elementary school

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Photo taken 04/2012 Photo taken 04/2012
LAKELAND, FL (WFLA) -

An elementary school is promising change after, investigators say, a man was able to get inside the school Monday morning and attack the principal.

Deputies say 42-year-old Elester Trudell, of 2429 Blair Circle S., Lakeland, walked through a side door at Oscar J. Pope Elementary School in southeast Lakeland.

"Somehow or other - he made it to the office," said Greg Bondurant, Director of Safe Schools for the Polk County School Board.

Trudell does not have any children at the school and investigators still aren't sure why he was on campus. Bondurant said when Principal Qvonda Birdsong got wind of what was happening, she went to speak with him.

"She asked: 'May I help you,'" he said. "And she said he just said 'get the f out of my face and just started hitting me.' And she said she turned so he just hit her in the arm."

A school custodian was able to step in and break it up and Birdsong wasn't severely hurt. Deputies arrested Trudell for the battery. Bondurant realizes how strange the situation was.

"We just don't have principals that are hit or attacked," he said.

Administrators at the school said they leave the door open from 7:30 to 8:00 for parents to drop off their children. Principal Birdsong assured her Safe Schools director that will change.

"From this day forward - it's going to be locked," he said. "Everybody's going to come through the double doors here at the office."

That is reassuring news for parents. After the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary, many believed this should be a wake-up call for all campus, large or small.

"It doesn't matter if it's a big school or small school ... you're going to have crazy people," said parent Lisa Ritter. "I just thank God he didn't have [any] guns."

Deputies and police have arrested Trudell numerous times in Polk County for Battery, Petit Theft, Forgery, Occupied Burglary, Leaving Scene of Crash With Injuries, and Battery on a law enforcement officer.

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