New Rochelle Barnard School Principal Waits Hours to Notify Police of Intruder; Parents Told Man In Building Was Outside

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New Rochelle Barnard School Principal Waits Hours to Notify Police of Intruder; Parents Told Man In Building Was Outside

November 04, 2010 - 23:33

barnardschool.jpgLast Thursday between 1 pm and 2 pm an unidentified man entered the Barnard Elementary School during school hours where he was observed wandering through the building, sources tell Talk of the Sound. The man was later discovered hiding in a closet inside an empty classroom by a Barnard staffer returning to the classroom after lunch. The staffer fled the room and reported the encounter to the main office. A subsequent search failed to turn up the intruder who was later presumed to have left the building on his own.

Multiple sources have independently contacted Talk of the Sound to say that police were not notified for several hours after the incident. This was the second incident of an intruder at Barnard School over the past year.

UPDATE: Police Report indicates that a "male/black grey top possible grey bottom observed in the bldg by a few people for the last hr and last seen about 15 mins ago in the bathroom".


Barnard Principal Patricia Lambert confirmed to Talk of the Sound there has been an intruder, and stated that she had put the school on lock-down and called the police. She did not say when she had called. Lambert, who appeared flustered, stated that no one had seen the person which both contradicts multiple witnesses and defies common sense -- if no one saw anyone why was the school put on lock-down and why were police called? Sources tell Talk of the Sound the intruder was a male black, no age or additional physical description was provided.

Talk of the Sound has submitted a FOIL request to the New Rochelle Police Department; the incident report will include the time of the call from the school to the police and additional information about the description.

According to sources with knowledge of the incident, staff members at the Barnard School observed and questioned an unauthorized person walking the hallways of the Barnard School last Thursday between 1 pm and 2 pm. Neither staffer notified security. A different staff member later found the man, hiding in a closet in a classroom, and reported the encounter to the main office at which point Lambert put the school on lock-down. Rather than call the police, Lambert instructed staff to search the building. and specifically instructed staff not to call the police, sources have told Talk of the Sound. It was about three hours later, after the end of the school day, when Lambert called police, according to these same sources.

Parents of Barnard students contacted by Talk of the Sound said they received robocalls stating that a man was observed outside the building. One recalls the message saying "in the garden", another recalls understanding the intruder was observed near Amy's Greenhouse. There was no mention of a man inside the building in the message to parents.

There has been no explanation of how the man entered the building, why Patricia Lambert would say "no one" had seen the intruder, why parents were told the intruder was outside the building when he was observed by at least three Barnard staffers while inside the building and how the intruder was able to enter the building in the first place although there are some indications that the security guard was not at his post at the time.

This afternoon, Lambert was preparing to preside over a security meeting where the incident was to be discussed. F.U.S.E. Safety & Health Chairman Tony Costa was scheduled to attend the meeting.

There are 10 Comments

Lambert is out and out lying when she said the school went into lock down. She barely wanted to do anything about it at first, passing the buck onto the custodian. Thankfully this man did not decide to snatch a child. He would have gotten a present of being an hour or two away before anyone even reported it! AND..really..with all the security that stand around and do NOTHING in the secondary schools and high school..there is no excuse for there to be only ONE security person at Barnard. Lambert (as with most principals)is (are) given so many freedoms to run their schoools as they see fit. With that being said, Lambert needs to make sure there is a body at the security post at all times. Who sits there when Tony goes to lunch, or the bathroom? If this intruder really intended, or intends, to cause harm, dont think for one minute he does not know the routines of security. We are watching Ms. Lambert!! We pray this is the end of this incident. You should pray that you have the smarts to always follow proper procedure!

Robert Cox's picture

My sources told me that it was "hours" or "three hours" from when the man was first seen and when the police were called. I was told the man was seen between 1 pm and 2 pm and based on this understood that the call to police was made around 4 pm or after school had let out.

The police report indicates that the first call to the police was made at 13:35 PM and that officers were dispatched to the scene at 13:40 PM and arrived at 13:51 PM. Police left at 14:14 PM. The average response time for the Fire Department is about 6 minutes or less. So, I am concerned that it took 16 minutes from the initial call to arrival. Anything could have happened in 16 minutes.

The police report states that when the call to police was made at 13:35 the man had last been seen 15 minutes earlier and that the man had been seen "for the last hour". This raises a number of concerns and questions.

1. If the man was first seen an hour or so before 13:35 PM that would be about 12:30 PM. How long had the intruder been in the building prior to the initial contact reported to police? Is the timeline correct? Why do I have multiple sources telling me there was a THREE HOUR delay?

2. The intruder was seen 15 minutes before the call was made. Why the delay? What was going on between 13:20 PM and 13:35 PM? My wife is a teacher in the district and I can assure you that is she found an intruder hiding in a closet in her classroom she would have run screaming bloody murder down the hallways, alerting everyone on her way and making a beeline for the main office. So, why the delay in calling the police? Was it during this time that Mrs. Lambert was trying to get a custodian to search the building and instructing staff not to call the police?

3. If my sources are correct, at 13:20, a staffer returning to a classroom after lunch found the man hiding in a closet. The police report says the man was observed in a bathroom. Is it both? Or is claiming he was observed in the bathroom a way to cover up that he was discovered in a closet in a classroom?

4. If the school was put on lockdown immediately how did the man get out of the building unobserved?

5. The district spends millions each year on security including video surveillance equipment. Where were the security guard(s)? What images were captured on video tape? Has that video tape been made available to police? Are there external cameras that might show which direction this person went after exiting the building?

6. The district has (or had) a Director of Surveillance, Ralph Kohler. Where is he in all this? He was still on the job at the time of the incident (word is he was taken off the payroll on 10/31). The district has a Director of Security, Bruce Daniele, who is paid very well and provide a car to be on call 24/7. What was he doing that was more important than responding a report of "m/b grey top possible grey bottom observed in the bldg by a few people for the last hr and last seen about 15 mins ago in the bathroom". My sources state the neither Kohler or Daniele came to the school that day -- is that correct?

7. Why is there no gate and fence system around the perimeter of the Barnard campus? The campus is adjacent to woods which connect the school to a public park and a housing project which has a history of incidents including the use of weapons. Several years ago there was a string of robberies along Barnard Road; the culprit was living illegally in the projects at the bottom of the hill from the school and walking up the path past the tennis courts, through the Barnard campus to gain access to the neighborhood.

I have been given word from yet another source that this article was circulated among Barnard parents and the Barnard PTA and that they are angry about it. I have yet to hear the robo-call or see a copy of any note that went home to parents. If anyone has kept the voicemail or has the note and would be willing to share it please contact me -- all sources on this are anonymous and information provide "on background" and "not for attribution".

And what a coincidence that Lambert didnt make it to school on Friday.
What does Mr.Costa...aka Mr. Union Safety Man have to say about this.

No one ever thinks that the stories you see, read and hear about will ever happen to them. No one is going to walk into Barnard and start shooting kids and take hostages, That person that looks a little suspicious probably is harmless. I don't want to assume the worst about people etc. etc. Well, those incidents we all read about happen just like that. A person that looks just like you and me walks into a school or business and opens fire, or a disgruntled parent kills his or her child to spite the other parent, or an off balance employee does something for revenge. Do not be complacent, ESPECIALLY if you have the lives of hundreds of children and employees in your care.

Robert Cox's picture

November 2008 - Details Emerge of Stabbing Incident; Attacker Stabbed Victim in the Neck Causing Blood Loss

"Even after sending out thousands of robocalls yesterday inviting parents to contact him today with questions, Don Conetta has refused to answer ANY of the questions put to him via email. Big surprise! In typical "kick the can down the road" fashion, Conetta emails in response to my request for answers that he will answer questions next week, after the schools investigation is complete."

Conetta has never responded despite repeated requests over the past two years.

Davis School on Lockdown, Man in Fatigues, Flack Jacket Triggers Alert

At Davis School this past April, Davis AND Ward School were put on lock down and a dozen police cars responded from all over the city because a man wearing what a appeared to be a flak-jacket was jogging several blocks from the Davis school (it was a weight vest used to work out). The guy was not in Davis or on the grounds at Davis he was several blocks from Davis at the school was locked down immediately. This incident took place miles from Ward School and that school was also locked down.

So how is that when an intruder wonders around the building for more than an hour nothing happens? How comes 10 minutes after a terrified staffer reports the guy is hiding in a closet in a classroom no call to police has been made?

This entire event is both bizarre and deeply troubling...more so if the Principal is actively lying to parents, claiming the school was locked down when it was not and claiming that the man was outside the school when he was inside the school, telling police he was in a bathroom when he was in a classroom and otherwise pretending both it a minor security breach and that the district's written lockdown/lockout procedure was followed.

If you step back a moment, the more troubling pattern will emerge-- our children are not safe in the schools, security is a joke and the only immediate response we see from school officials is an immediate attempt to engage in a cover up.

I think this needs to be taken a step further. If in fact proof can be produced that this principal lied to her boss, parents or anyone else for that matter that Barnard went into lockdown SHE SHOULD BE TERMINATED! There should be ZERO tolerance in this matter. LETS GO BARNARD PARENTS.. someone come forward and produce a letter, a taped phone message.

Well, you know, instead of installing razor barbed-wire fences around the perimeter of the prison, a few choice placed video-cameras might help us in identifying the culprit.

Roberta the Postperson

why is it you never mention the Ass. Director of Security , Robert Coyne, ever in your comments, what is his function???

Nothing for nothing, but

the man in question was allegedly hiding in a freakin' closet! That does not bode well.

I bet my fat hog that this man may have even been the mustached gentleman freeloading off of the citizens and guests of New Rochelle--aka the man that asks for money around town.

If it isn't Charlie Mustache Freeloader it is Suzie Always Bets on Black from Iona.

Does anyone know when the holiday bus begins making tours of New Rochelle? That Jimmy is salt of the earth offering free tours of our historic places. Ride the bus downtown this Christmas!

Roberta the Postperson is fast approaching 400,000 visitors. That is pretty amazing, in a relatively short time.