Lockdown in Polk County: parents on edge, officials applaud 911 caller

Polk County

DAVENPORT, Fla. (WFLA) – Parents were fearing the worst when Davenport School of the Arts was placed on lockdown Thursday morning.

A concerned parent called 911 at 8:20 a.m. Students were still eating breakfast.

“She saw two guys dressed in black holding rifles or assault weapons,” said Scott Wilder, a Polk County Sheriff’s Office public information officer.

The school was quickly put on lockdown. Two nearby schools, Loughman Oaks Elementary and Ridgeview Global, were on heightened security.

“It’s very scary. I’m just praying that everything is ok,” said Tawanna Parker.

“When it really happens to you, you really don’t know how to express your feelings. It’s very, very nerve-wracking,” said Yesenia Garduno, a parent of three students at Davenport School of the Arts.

“It’s a terrifying feeling to not be able to get to your baby,” said Lindsay Lamb, another parent.

Joy Sutkus said she heard about the lockdown when her daughter, Miley, called her on FaceTime.

“She looked really scared. She was on the bus and she said ‘Mom, something’s going on. We’re in the bus and cops were flying in and I saw them with guns’,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and several area police departments were going door to door to find the men responsible.

BB guns involved in lock down incident
(Courtesy Polk County Sheriff’s Office)

Less than a mile from the school, they found two young men in possession of BB guns that resembled real firearms.

“They claim that they weren’t out. But they generally matched the descriptions and we did discover that they, at some point, had some BB guns. They claimed not to be displaying them,” said Wilder.

They told police they were target shooting on their property.

The 911 caller positively identified them and the lockdown was lifted just after 10 a.m.

“When they saw it, they immediately called We don’t take anything for granted so whether we believe it’s a BB gun, a real gun or whatever. We’re going to do whatever we got to do to protect our children,” said Jacqueline Byrd, Polk County Public Schools Superintendent. “When you see something, say something. That way we keep everybody in our community, our schools safe.”

“This is very unique. We haven’t had that kind of specific description near a school so we have not had this kind of law enforcement response,” said Wilder.

Parents were allowed to take their children home after the lockdown was lifted. Classes will resume as normal Friday.

Wilder said Polk County Sheriff’s Office deputies will remain on scene for a few days in an abundance of caution.

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April 24 2021 08:00 am

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