NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- Three students from New Rochelle High School were taken to area hospitals following an incident which resulted in a lockdown/lockout of the entire school building earlier today.
The incident began around 11:00 am when a female student with a history of psychological problems refused to follow directions from a school security guard. The student became highly agitated to the point that her house principal was called to the scene. New Rochelle High School, one of the largest high schools in New York State, is divided into four "houses" of about 800 students each. The student is assigned to House 1.
After efforts by House 1 Principal Gustavo Barbosa failed to calm the student, her mother and grandmother were called to the school. A decision was made to transport the student to Montefiore Mount Vernon Hospital for a psychological evaluation. Three New Rochelle Police officers and EMTs were called to the scene.
Three other female students attempted to intervene by gaining access to the House 1 office at which point the incident escalated. The three girls became very loud and threatening, swinging their fists, and spitting on the security guards who had arrived to assist, according to witnesses. Students in the hallway began to join in the shouting. Initially the hallway around House 1 was closed off but, out of concern that more students might get involved, the entire school was put on lockdown/lockout at about 1:15 pm. Students were locked in their classrooms and those outside the building during their lunch period were left stranded outside the building. The police called for backup with about a dozen officers ultimately on scene.
One of the students cooperated when directed to leave the area. She was taken to another office and suspended.
The other three students did not cooperate and had to be physically restrained, first by school security guards and then by police officers. The students repeatedly and violently resisted, according to officials who were present but asked not to be identified.
One witness described the three girls as acting "like demons" and "totally out of control".
The girls were screaming vulgar obscenities at school security guards and police officers.
"One of the worse things I've seen," said one school district employee who was present but asked not to be identified.
The student who began the incident was handcuffed to a stretcher but had to be restrained further as she repeatedly attempted to get off the stretcher.
The other two students were restrained by police and taken away but not before spitting and swinging at police officers. A net was placed over one of the students to prevent her from spitting on officers. Both students may face criminal charges, according to a source with the New Rochelle Police Department.
Due to a lack of ambulances in the City, there was a delay in transporting all three students. The last of the three students left school grounds at 1:54 pm, at which point the lockdown/lockout ended. There was an additional delay as those students who were locked out were brought in while the students locked in were kept in their classroom so that all students could hear an announcement over the PA system.
One school official, again off-the-record, said the response by school security and police to a difficult and highly charged situation was restrained and appropriate under the circumstances.
Rumors flew around the school among students, many saying they heard there was a stabbing. There were no weapons involved and no serious injuries. One security guard was punched in the stomach by one of the students.
There was an incident earlier in the day involving what amounted to a "senior prank" where upwards of 100 students gathered at McKenna Field and Clove Road for a massive water balloon fight. Security guards dispersed the crowd, directing students to dispose of water pistols carried by some of the students.
An incident later in the day involved several students from Albert Leonard Middle School engaged a physical altercation near the high school at the corner of Eastchester Road and Clove Road. Police responded and dispersed the students.
Neither of these two incidents had anything to do with the police response to the incident involving the three students at House 1.
UPDATE: NRPD Statement 5/26
"On May 26, 2016 at 1233hrs the NRPD and EMS responded to the New Rochelle High School on a report of a juvenile student acting out of control in the House 1 office. Upon arrival officers interviewed school administrators, social workers, security and the female students mother who was on scene. The officers were made aware of the students background and that she may be in crisis. After interviewing the student it was determined that she would be transported for an evaluation. The student then became combative with EMS and Officers on scene. While attempting to escort the student out of the school two other female students attempted to physically prevent officers from removing the student from the school. These two students were placed under arrest for obstruction of governmental administration as well as resisting arrest. Additional officers and ambulances responded to assist. The school was temporarily placed on lock down at the Principal request until the incident was resolved."