KCC incident prompts 3-school lockdown

LIHU‘E — A reported staff incident at Kaua‘i Community College alerted three surrounding schools into a lockdown mode Thursday morning.

Kaua‘i Police Department responded to a 10 a.m. disturbance call from KCC officials who reported an employee had made a statement that was perceived to be threatening, KPD spokeswoman Sarah Blane said. Once police located the male employee, age 57, and deemed the area safe, the schools were then notified to disengage any emergency response, she said.

No arrest was made. No weapons were discovered and no injuries reported, according to the statement.

“There was no lockdown of KCC campus,” KCC Chancellor Helen A. Cox said. “There was a minor incident that was quickly resolved.”

Officers responding to the scene immediately notified the surrounding schools, Chiefess Kamakahelei, Island  School, and Punana Leo, of the incident and directed them to initiate safety protocols, Blane said.

“Police continue to investigate the incident but at this time KCC is handling the matter internally,” Blane said.

Robert Springer, head of Island School, said a call from a KPD Dispatch officer instructed the school into lockdown as a precautionary measure.

“Because of our proximity, they wanted us just to be careful,” Springer said. “It lasted about 10 minutes.”

During the lockdown, Springer said the 265 students, ranging from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade, went to assigned safe areas. Staff locked the gate and Springer kept watch around the campus area for any activity.

The school holds lockdown drills and Springer said everyone reacted calmly and knew what to do when it happened. The teachers continued with instruction to keep anxiety to a minimum.

“We didn’t want to overreact and get the kids all excited, and at the same time we wanted to be sure they would be safe,” he said.

Not knowing what was happening until the “all clear” was Springer’s primary concern. He said he didn’t know if someone would be coming to his campus, if they would be armed, or what would be their intent.

“We didn’t know what it was all about until afterwards,” he said.

The primary concern was safety while also being careful not to blow it out of proportion and raise the anxiety level or create panic, Springer said. Within minutes word came that the person who caused the disturbance at KCC was apprehended by police and everything was back to normal.

“It was good practice for us and we certainly welcomed the warning by the police and their instructions to us,” Springer said. “In today’s world there aren’t any guarantees.”

Bill Arakaki, superintendent of Kaua‘i Schools said that anytime the police inform them of a situation they take all necessary precautions. For this health and safety issue the three schools in the vicinity went into lockdown until the all-clear came to resume normal operations.

“Our partnership with the Kaua‘i Police Department is great and we thank them for keeping us informed of things that could affect the school,” Arakaki said. “Whenever there is a call we take action because we are in charge of the kids.”

Arakaki said Kaua‘i schools train for a lockdown just as they do fire drills. He said the utmost concern is to be prepared for any situation and to respond in an safe and orderly manner.

• Tom LaVenture, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 224) or tlaventure@thegardenisland.com.

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