St. James’ Parish Day School and Holy Family Catholic School last Wednesday morning placed their campuses on lockdown while South Pasadena police searched surrounding areas for a man reported to be carrying a firearm. The man, who had visited the two Fremont Avenue churches earlier that morning, was not located.
South Pasadena police will not be investigating the incident further, Sgt. Shannon Robledo said earlier this week.
“There was no crime,” Robledo said Tuesday afternoon. “The weapon was revealed in a nonthreatening manner. No police report has been filed.”
St. James’ Parish Day School staff members were greeting families in the parking lot around 9:05 a.m. when a man approached and, reportedly, told a young priest that he was in need of money.
The priest took the man away from the parking lot. Alone with the priest, the man said that he was in need of a job that paid around $20 an hour. He mentioned that he had previous work experience in security. Then, he revealed a holstered pistol. He told the priest that the gun was his own.
Between 9:15 and 9:20 a.m., after the priest informed him that St. James would not be able to offer him a job, the man got up and left the premises. He was not verbally insulting, reports say.
When Anne Tumilty, the rector of St. James for the past 16 years, learned of the incident, she immediately reported it to the SPPD and put the Day School on voluntary provisional lockdown. Holy Family Catholic School put its campus on lockdown soon after.
“Our first responsibility is to protect the kids,” Tumilty said Tuesday afternoon. “Just the fact that a man showed a gun on our grounds was enough for us to inform the police. We did what any school or church would do.”
Police searched the surrounding areas but were not able to locate the man. The lockdown was lifted around 11 a.m.
St. James goes to great length to ensure the safety of its schoolchildren, Tumilty said. The Day School has, among other safety features, locked gates, security, and video surveillance.
School administrators and staff are also well-trained in responding to emergency lockdowns.
During the lockdown, all gates and doors were locked, security was on alert, and kids were kept inside classrooms and away from windows.
“The teachers were wonderful in handling the situation,” Tumilty said. “Children did not even know what was going on.”
“The Chief and the police were terrific in their response,” the rector added, referring to South Pasadena Chief of Police Art Miller.