D.C. schools locked down after Navy Yard shootings


Paul Woodard, 10 runs towards his mother while his brother Josiah, 2, trys to catch him at 8th and I Street, SE, near the scene of a mass shooting at the Navy Yard. (Michel du Cille/The Washington Post)
September 16, 2013

When the doors to Tyler Elementary School were locked Monday morning in response to the shootings at the Navy Yard nearby, a few parents who had just dropped off their children were also shut inside.

Ivy Estabrooke, who has a 4-year-old daughter at the school on G Street SE, said she didn’t mind being “caught” along with her 2-year-old in the lockdown that began about 9 a.m. Estabrooke, a civilian Navy employee who works in Arlington and lives on Capitol Hill, said she and her 2-year-old daughter waited out the lockdown in the older daughter’s pre-kindergarten classroom.

“Frankly, if something was going to happen,” Estabrooke said, “I would rather be with both of my children.”

Two other parents and siblings were in the classroom during the episode, Estabrooke said. The school found an extra diaper for a visitor when one was needed. It also rustled up some spare lunches of bean burritos, green beans, oranges and milk.

The teacher continued teaching, Estabrooke said. It was a normal day except there was no recess. Estabrooke and the other parents left with their children at about 2:45 p.m., when school officials were given approval to dismiss.

Students from a D.C. public charter school near the Navy Yard shooting scene spent several hours sitting in hallways — and away from windows — while their campus was secured against possible threats.

But the lockdown at Richard Wright Public Charter School for Journalism and Media Arts, on the 700 block of M Street SE, ended without incident as students were dismissed at about 3:30 p.m. under police protection. The school has about 400 students in grades 8 to 11.

Charmaine Weldon, who came to pick up a niece and nephew, said the school kept in close touch with families during the lockdown. “They kept notifying us with updated information on voice mail,” she said. But she added: “I was definitely scared.”

The head of the school, Marco Clark, said students were escorted from classrooms to an interior hallway after they were alerted by police at 8:45 a.m. They sat there until shortly after noon.

Teachers handed out books and puzzles to help students pass the time. They were not allowed to text or make calls on cellphones. “Some did work,” one teenage girl said. “Some went to sleep.”

In the early afternoon, Clark said, some classrooms were reopened for instruction.

Clark said the police let him know at about 2:30 p.m. that students could be dismissed. He did so an hour later, after notifying parents. That was earlier than the usual dismissal time. “Our kids did a great job of following directions,” Clark said.

A former Post education editor, Nick writes about college from the perspective of a father of three who will soon be buried in tuition bills.
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