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Berkshire Elementary School parents report hearing flash bangs around time of lockdown

Law enforcement was in area helping domestic violence victim, sheriff's office says
Palm Beach County Fire Rescue responds to Berkshire Elementary School, located at 1060 South Kirk Road, on Aug. 15, 2022.jpg
Posted at 4:12 PM, Aug 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-16 18:35:26-04

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — WPTV learned more Tuesday about the chaos that erupted in and around a Palm Beach County elementary school one day prior.

Deputies swarmed a neighborhood near Berkshire Elementary School, located at 1060 South Kirk Road, around 2 p.m. Monday.

The scene led to parents jumping fences to get to their kids.

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Teri Barbera, a spokeswoman for the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, told WPTV Contact 5 there was a law enforcement presence in the neighborhood. Eventually, that led to Berkshire Elementary School in a code red lockdown with more than 20 squad cars lined up around the school.

The sheriff's office said deputies were a block away when school was getting out on Monday afternoon. They were helping a domestic violence victim gather her belongings from her boyfriend’s home.

Barbera said the school district was notified of the law enforcement activity.

Deputies at Berkshire Elementary School, Aug. 15, 2022
A law enforcement presence could be seen at Berkshire Elementary School, Aug. 15, 2022, in West Palm Beach, Fla.

At the school, parents reported hearing what sounded like flash bangs or shots.

"We were here and we heard the noise, like I said, bang, bang," said parent Yeimar Irizacarry. "And from that point on is when we got a little nervous and we started running inside to see what was going on."

Still undetermined is what caused the bang that some believed was gunfire.

Shortly after, the school went on code red lockdown and parents at the scene said their kids called them on cell phones.

"It was just a code red and then we were all hiding and I just heard police sirens go flashing," said fifth grade student Jonas Velez.

"In today’s society, we have to be able to quickly and professionally assess what’s really going on," said security expert and former federal agent Tim Miller.

Miller said law enforcement agencies and schools need to fine-tune communication in events like this.

For example, the blast text to parents read, "The school is in a temporary lockdown and will have some effect on dismissal. All students are safe."

"Maybe a response like, hey, there are unconfirmed reports of shots fired in the general area. Law enforcement is surrounding the school and it is secure. Your kids are safe," Miller said. "That’s very different than, school is in lockdown, your kids are safe."

One law enforcement source involved in Monday's incident told WPTV Contact 5 the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office should have asked the school to go on a code yellow lockdown, which has kids shelter in place and makes clear there is no threat inside the school.

WPTV asked a spokesperson from both the School District of Palm Beach County and Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office for an on-camera interview to review their actions on Monday, but no one from either agency responded.

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