Pomona Elementary placed on lockdown for more than an hour, parents pleased with school, police response

By: Tim Ciesco Email
By: Tim Ciesco Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo (KKCO) - Students of Pomona Elementary are home safe after reports of suspicious activity near the school put it on lockdown. School officials say they will now review the way the situation was handled -- but believe the right things did happen.

The Grand Junction Police Department says it's still trying to figure out if a threat against the school was real or not. Officers had received reports that a man carrying a gun was seen walking near the school. But real or not, parents say they're glad everyone took it seriously.

Pomona Elementary student Kianna Colaizzi says she was just about ready to go home from school when the principal made an announcement that it was on lockdown.

"We didn't know if it was a drill or anything like that," says Colaizzi.

But she and her classmates quickly learned that wasn't the case.

"Then we saw the police come into our classroom and we then knew it was really real," she says.

Colaizzi says nobody in the classroom was too scared and her teacher helped keep everyone calm.

"She kept telling us, I'm here and nothing is gonna happen," she says. "I won't let anything happen to you."

But outside the school, the parents waiting to pick their kids up were anything but calm.

"Obviously I panicked," says Tony Colaizzi, Kianna's father. "I was in shock."

"I turned around and asked this is just a drill, right?" says Linda Reed, whose grandson is a student at Pomona. "But just the expression on people's faces, you know, I thought this is serious."

For more than an hour they were forced to stand out in the cold, while police secured the area and escorted bus riders to their buses.

"The problem that we faced in this situation is that it occurred five minutes before school was to be let out," says Jeff Kirtland, spokesman for School District 51. "And at that point we had to stop everything."

Even though emotions were running high while they waited, parents say they're glad to see the school and police made sure things were 100 percent safe before they sounded the all clear.

"They did a great job," says Reed. "They came in and informed us to what was going on and it was wonderful."

"They took it serious and we thank them," says Tony Colaizzi.

After checking parents IDs, the students were released to them and everyone went home safe.

"It's a big relief, a wonderful relief," says Reed.

School officials say that's just how they hope a situation like this turns out.

"We need to evaluate this, we need to make sure everything actually worked the way we intended," says Kirtland. "At this point it's looked like it worked very well."

School District 51 says this is the first time in several years they've had a lockdown that kept students at school past the end of the day and required them to reunite the kids with their parents. They say they want to review how things went so they can be even better prepared should something like this happen again.

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  • by Debra Location: Grand Junction on Oct 30, 2009 at 09:47 AM
    I beleive the school and police did a great job keeping our children safe. My only complaint is that I had no idea what was going on and was just seconds from calling 911 because my daughter was not home and it is now 4:40. I could not get a hold of the school, District 51 or First student, since she rides the bus. After calling a couple neighbors I finally got some information and then went directly to the school to make sure my little girl was indeed safe. For what seemed like eternity those 40 minutes is something I never want to go through again. Some how Parents need to be notified of these situations!
  • by Carly Location: Grand Junction on Oct 30, 2009 at 09:07 AM
    It brought tears to my eyes to read what the teacher said to calm the kids down. And I'm sure had someone been in the school or if something was going on, she would have done everything she could to protect her kids. Makes me feel good about who my daughter is with all day every day....
  • by Jacon DeGiulio Location: Grand Junction on Oct 29, 2009 at 07:45 PM
    It is funny that no one checked to confirm that my son made it home. How do they know that all the children made it home safe? The school needs to find a way to notify parents of an incident like this. As a parent of one of the students at Pamona Elementary I was in the dark about the situation. Had to call GJPD to find out that the school was on lockdown.
  • by Tisha Location: GJ, CO on Oct 29, 2009 at 06:29 PM
    As a Pomona Parent of 2, I think that the GJ Police and all of the staff at Pomona did an excellent job with this lock down. Great Job and Thank You for keeping our little ones safe and secure.
  • by Jessica Location: Grand Mesa on Oct 29, 2009 at 05:52 PM
    What exactly happened today? Did an adult try to pick up a child? Please explain.
  • by Adam Cochran Location: Grand Junction, Co on Oct 29, 2009 at 04:43 PM
    The real story here is not the guy with a gun. It is totally legal to carry a gun out in the open - unless he was on campus or pointing it at somebody. The real story here is how the school and school district didn't notify the parents for almost 2 hours on why their kids weren't home. Nothing was posted on the district website, twitter, the District's Facebook page, etc. This is the 21st Century - people get their news from the Internet first now.
  • by Troy Location: G.J on Oct 29, 2009 at 03:45 PM
    I have three kids there now and stuck at home THANK YOU 11 news for keeping me up to date.
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