Fort Worth

3 Polytechnic High students accused of robbery, fleeing into school with gun

What happens during a school lockdown?

A school lockdown is a precautionary measure issued in response to a direct or nearby threat. It requires staff and students to respond quickly and comply with rules. Here’s how it often works.
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A school lockdown is a precautionary measure issued in response to a direct or nearby threat. It requires staff and students to respond quickly and comply with rules. Here’s how it often works.

Three Polytechnic High School students were arrested Tuesday after police received a call about someone entering the school with a gun, police said.

The students, all minors, had allegedly just robbed an individual on Avenue J, said Fort Worth school district spokesman Clint Bond.

“Police were on top of that pretty quickly, so they (students) sought refuge inside the school,” Bond said.

Police dispatched more than 30 units to the scene. Bond said the trio was captured within minutes.

Police spokesman Jimmy Pollozani later confirmed that a weapon was recovered during the arrests but he didn’t say what it was.

Pollozani confirmed that “it all stemmed from a robbery that occurred in the 2700 block of Avenue J.”

Bond said that the three students had been on campus before leaving to allegedly take part in the robbery. When they were spotted by a neighbor during the robbery, the students fled, he said.

A central patrol officer saw the youths running and followed them to the school. Bond said the students entered the school through a back entrance. They apparently knocked on a door and were allowed in by an unknown person, Bond said.

“Someone let them in which should not have happened,” Bond said. “We saw that on video. They came in and tried to make themselves scarce inside.”

Daniel Garcia, the schools’ director of safety and security, said that the secondary access doors are locked except before and after school, and when students pass from one class to another.

He said that the district will have to educate the campus that when the doors are locked, “don’t allow people in.”

But Garcia added that it is not out unusual for students to open a door for others.

Quick response

When the police officer arrived to the school, he told the school resource officer that the students entered the campus. The school resource officer told the school secretary: “Lock down the school.”

Bond said the lockdown, which began shortly after 10 a.m., occurred swiftly.

“They didn’t get into a classroom so the police were able to collect them pretty quickly,” Bond said.

One student was injured, apparently jumping over a wall on campus, he said. One of the students entered the building with a gun in a backpack. It was a 40-caliber pistol, Bond said.

“They face criminal charges,” Bond said, explaining that school disciplinary actions will be addressed later.

A police officer who asked not to be named said the school had been searched and cleared and the lockdown was lifted after about an hour and a half. Parents were allowed to enter in groups of 10 to retrieve their children. Students could be seen waving in windows.

Bond said students were allowed to go home with their parents or stay until the end of the school day.

Anxious moments

The lockdown had relatives of the students inside the building anxiously looking for information.

Tina Le, who graduated from Poly in 2018, said her 14-year-old sister recently began her freshman year there.

She said her sister texted her to let her know about the lockdown.

“She was telling me she loves me and stuff, you know, just in case,” Le said. “I was telling her I was right outside and that everything would be OK.

“This is just so unexpected,” Le said. “It never happened the whole time I was here.”

Before the lockdown was lifted, parents gathered at the school and congregated outside. One was visibly distraught, yelling to someone on the phone, “My kids are in there!” Another said she was trying to stop shaking.

Bond said this is the first year that campuses have controlled access. That means during class time, secondary access points are locked, but they are open during passing periods. Overall, Bond said the lockdown was handled well.

“We think the lockdown conducted by the staff should be celebrated,” Bond said.

Tobi Jackson, president of the school board who represents the district that includes Polytechnic, said school security is always a concern.

“That’s the reason we have protocols in place — so a team can respond with precision,” she said. “Kids and staff were safe thanks to the police and Poly team.”

Stephen English: 817-390-7330, @sbenglish74