Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Prank 911 Call Delays School's Dismissal; Police Said a Child Called, Saying an Armed Man Was Inside the Building

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Prank 911 Call Delays School's Dismissal; Police Said a Child Called, Saying an Armed Man Was Inside the Building

Article excerpt

Byline: KEVIN TURNER and MARY HURST

FERNANDINA BEACH - A child's apparent crank call to Nassau County's 911 dispatch office at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday set Emma Love Hardee Elementary School on edge.

School officials put the school - which was traumatized in May when a man killed himself at the front door after shooting several people elsewhere - on lockdown.

"We're just trying to run this down," Fernandina Beach Police Chief Jim Hurley said Wednesday. "We have a child who called 911 from a cell phone, saying, 'There's a guy with a gun who's going to shoot us all.' We handled it with an abundance of caution."

In a painfully familiar scene, Fernandina Beach Police officers carefully corralled anxious parents who arrived at the school to pick up their children. The result was a slow, long line of vehicles.

"Get in line! There's nothing wrong with the kids!" Fernandina Beach Police Detective Tracey Campbell said to one concerned parent. "We had a call come in. There's no reason to panic."

It wasn't the first time this year police have rushed to the elementary school to closely watch as children were released to their parents.

On May 3, Denny O'Dell Taylor, 60, pulled up in a stolen car to the front of the school, where he shot himself. Taylor had sped from a parking lot at Baptist Medical Center Nassau on 18th Street where he went on shooting spree, killing his ex-wife and his former brother-in-law and seriously wounding his ex-wife's sister.

The lockdown Wednesday slowed the release of Emma Love Hardee students to a trickle because children were released to their parents only a few at a time, under the watchful eye of police and school officials.

Fernandina Beach Police Capt. David Bishop said the police established a perimeter and were methodically looking for anything suspicious.

At 3:45 Wednesday, more than an hour after school was released, parents still waited. …

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