JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Mandarin Oaks Elementary and Mandarin Middle schools were briefly placed on Code Red lockdown about noon Friday as authorities looked for a possible intruder on campus, school district officials said.
The all-clear was given at both schools shortly after 1 p.m., said Lauren Ricks, spokesperson for Duval County Public Schools.
ALL CLEAR for Mandarin Oaks Elementary and Mandarin Middle. All students and staff a are safe. The code red has been lifted. Law enforcement has advised that there is no threat & will continue to investigate. A letter and an automated call will go home to parents and guardians. — DCPS (@DuvalSchools) March 2, 2018
It was not immediately clear whether police had located the person they were searching for, but authorities said there was no threat to students and staff.
Police on scene told News4Jax reporter it was a case of "see something, say something," where a student reported seeing a suspicious person on the elementary school campus.
Due to the proximity of the two schools, district officials said that they chose to put both on lockdown out of an abundance of caution.
Attention Parents and Guardians of Mandarin Oaks Elementary and Mandarin Middle: The schools are on Code Red lockdown while police search for a potential unauthorized intruder at Mandarin Oaks Elementary. All students and staff are safe. pic.twitter.com/vAI9TBjvaJ — DCPS (@DuvalSchools) March 2, 2018
"My heart is still pounding. I was really nervous standing in line, waiting," parent Dana Scott said. "I did not know what to expect."
The sight of a police helicopter above the schools and heavily armed officers with tactical rifles on Friday afternoon was concern for parents.
"I was driving to the school. I saw all the police cars and a helicopter and that's what really tipped me off that something was going wrong. There were at least 20 police cars out at the middle school," mother Kathy Boles said.
Boles and her husband have a 5-year-old daughter in kindergarten at Mandarin Oaks Elementary. The two parents also both attended Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, where 17 people were killed in a mass shooting on Valentine's Day.
"I graduated from Douglas, so all of that was going through my head," Boles said. "I just wanted to get to the school to make sure that she was OK."
Though Friday's incident appeared to have been a false alarm, parents told News4Jax that the appreciate school leaders and police took it seriously.
Duval County school district officials said they won't take any call lightly.
Mandarin Oaks Elementary School Principal Leigh Butterfield sent the following to robocall to parents about the lockdown:
Hello Parents and Guardians of Mandarin Oaks Elementary School. This is Principal Butterfield calling to inform you of an incident that occurred today and the security measures we took to keep students and staff safe. At noon today, we received information from a student that an unauthorized individual may have been in the building. In response, we immediately placed the building on a Code Red Lockdown. School police and Jacksonville Sheriff’s officers responded very quickly and conducted a full search of the campus. Mandarin Middle School was also placed on lockdown while that campus was searched as well. Both schools were on a Code Red for approximately one hour and 15 minutes before law enforcement advised that the threat was all clear. Students and staff remained safe throughout the incident. We are grateful for our students who report suspicious activity, and the cooperation and responsiveness of students, staff, and law enforcement. The safety and well-being of our students and staff are important to us. If you have any concerns or questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at (904) 260-5820. Thank you and have a good evening.
Mandarin Middle School Principal Moses Williams sent a similar robocall to students' parents. Those with questions or concerns can call him at 904-262-0555.
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