Parents swarm Jefferson High School after reports of shots fired

SAN ANTONIO — Police and school officials found it difficult to control the hundreds of parents who flocked to Jefferson High School on Tuesday after hearing reports – in some cases from their own children – that gunshots had been fired there.

A man in the crowd cut his arm trying to break a window to gain access to the cordoned off campus. He will not be charged, San Antonio Independent School District officials said.

It was a false alarm, but it sparked a strong reaction from families who had now been made aware of the worst-case scenarios by the May 24 shooting in Uvalde.

“We are overwhelmed with fear of the worst,” Pete Vela said of his feelings as he and his wife Priscilla waited for their 15-year-old son Nico Vela outside the school.

“I definitely got here quickly. I left work and came quickly,” Vela said. “Finally, if someone was in there, I don’t blame the parents for wanting to come in, especially after what happened in Uvalde.”

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Parents and family members began gathering outside the school long before officials were ready to release the more than 1,700 students attending Jefferson High. Emotions ran high and there were several arguments with the police due to a lack of information and long waiting times. Several in the crowd were arrested.

SAISD Police Chief Johnny Reyes said officers received a call around 1pm about a possible classroom shooting. The school immediately went into full lockdown, meaning all students and staff are confined in classrooms, offices and any secure area, and no one except police officers can enter the building from the outside.

“Our department and (the) San Antonio Police Department determined that there was no shooting, but then we had to have our strike teams search room by room, systematically,” Reyes said. “We went to the place where the alleged shooting had taken place and quickly determined that no shooting had taken place.”

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Officers looked for evidence of shooting and questioned students who were found to be involved in an altercation, but at any point denied having or showing a gun, Reyes said.

A total of 29 SAISD officers and 58 San Antonio Police Department officers responded, many of whom had to deal with emotional parents who quickly rallied as they received messages and calls from their students at school.

Some students reported that their cellphones were confiscated by teachers, citing security measures. Others said they had no phone service and no way to communicate with their parents.

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“The school has been vacated and is considered safe,” a SAPD update emailed at 2:26 p.m. said

SAISD Superintendent Jaime Aquino said it was a lesson learned by the district, which recently hosted a Parent Safety and Protection Citizens Meeting to learn more about these protocols.

However, with few parents able to attend such events, the district is now tasked with figuring out how, through workshops, town halls and other efforts, parents can be better educated on safety protocols and the reasons police need to take the time to clear out a school .

“I think we’ve learned that we have to do more,” Aquino said. “I suppose if we hadn’t had Uvalde we might not have had the parents’ reaction. So we just have to understand that.”

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