Finally got official police details on what all those sirens were about last hour – thanks to the people who e-mailed us about it: According to Seattle Police media unit Det. Jeff Kappel, robbery detectives were looking for suspects “in cases they were working” around noon when one bolted and ran onto Schmitz Park Elementary (map) grounds. One eyewitness report we received by e-mail says the person jumped a fence to get onto school grounds:
Lunch time and the older kids were on the playground. Man jumped the fence and hid behind the backboard. Police cars arrived told kids to get down and they all responded immediately. All are safe and the man with the gun was handcuffed and taken away. … Staff and students responded extremely well.
Nobody was hurt and police confirm the man was taken into custody. Det. Kappel says he’s not sure which case the suspects were associated with, but three people are in custody. We’re working to find out more and will add additional details as we get them. 1:46 PM UPDATE: Just talked to Rhonda in the Schmitz Park office. She reiterates that everybody’s OK and back in class now and “did an amazing job.” She also says principal Gerrit Kischner (who’s on the phone with police as we speak) will send an official e-mail to Schmitz Park parents to let them know about the incident. 2:55 PM UPDATE: As provided by Ezra in the comment section below (and also sent to us in e-mail by another parent), here is the note sent to parents by the principal:
Dear Schmitz Park Families:
I want to share with you information regarding an incident that has affected our school community. I am sending you this letter to update you on the facts and to assure you that we are doing everything we can to support our students.
At approximately noontime today, Seattle Police Department arrested an unarmed robbery suspect on our school property during recess for third, fourth and fifth graders, and the police are conducting an investigation. Your child may have witnessed or knows another student who witnessed this event.
Student followed policy directions very well and playground monitors moved quickly to move students to safety. Following the incident, police gave the all-clear to allow Kindergarten, first and second graders onto the playground to begin their recess. We have discussed the incident with our students with the information available to us at this time.
Providing your students with a safe learning environment remains a top priority at Schmitz Park Elementary School. It is important that we continue to work together towards this unified goal. We are committed to safety within our community.
Additionally, classroom teachers will continue to discuss personal safety and safe practices regarding getting to and from school and reporting unsafe situations. Our counselor, Alben Tufel, has been made available to talk with students as well. Depending on the age of your child, this is also a good time to discuss how rumors spread and how we can work together to keep each other safe. I hope you will take the time to have similar conversations at home with your child.
Our plans for emergency drills this year include plans to conduct a lock-down drill. Please be assured that the safety and security of our students is our number one priority. If you have questions or concerns, please contact us.
As you will note, the principal’s note says the suspect was not armed. We are still working to get more information from police regarding any additional details they can share with us on the case – particularly what the suspects were wanted for, separate from the brief escape. 5:36 PM UPDATE: A little bit of new info – according to Southwest Precinct Lt. Norm James, the suspect arrested on school grounds was being sought in connection with the Westside Pharmacy post-shutdown holdup the other day (here’s our original story on that). 8:42 PM UPDATE: More details now on SPDBlotter. Two arrests in all but police originally had questioned three people. The one who jumped the fence at Schmitz was indeed the robbery suspect; the other one arrested was the alleged getaway driver. Both men are 23.