School lockdown lifted in Chester; 3 arrested

Smedley Middle School in Chester, Pa.

March 13, 2012 2:23:45 PM PDT
Authorities in Chester, Pa. say three burglary suspects are in custody after at least one of them tried to hide in a school.

Police were called to Smedley Middle School on the 1700 block of Upland Street, which was on lockdown for about 45 minutes Tuesday.

Only Action News was on scene as the lockdown was lifted and Zeaira Billops and other students were reunited with their parents.

"They were just running up and down the halls and our teacher slammed the door and put us on lockdown," Zeaira told Action News.

"This is ridiculous," said parent Shanoa Trusty. "How is it that this school was not secured and these guys ran up in here with all these kids?"

Just before noon, police responded to a burglary in process at a home a half block away. Three suspects bolted from the scene. One was caught. Two others sprinted into the school through an open back door.

"It was lunchtime and they came right thru the lunchroom," said principal Anthony Womack.

The suspects were captured quickly, but police kept the school locked down to make sure other suspects were not inside.

Word spread fast. Frantic parents began arriving, trying desperately to call their children.

"They ain't telling us nothing," said one parent. "I have two children and I'm still clueless about what's going on."

"They're not letting nobody in, nobody out," said grandparent Dee Naylor. "They aren't telling us nothing."

Some parents are upset the suspects were able to enter the school. The school's principal says the back doors were open for custodial work, and he praised teachers, administrators and police for their quick actions and response.

"We did the very best we could, and we did an effective job because none of children were hurt and everybody is fine," said Anthony Womack.

"I just hope it doesn't happen again," said parent Deric Smith, "and that they take preventative matters and appropriate action to not let this happen again. It's a shame."