FAIRFIELD, Conn. -- Frightened but relieved parents headed off to be reunited with their children late Friday morning after reports of threats to the Fairfield schools turned out to be false.
Mother Karen Secrist rushed to Tomlinson Middle School, saying she became concerned when all 17 schools in the district were locked down. When she arrived at her daughter's school, she saw armed police, first responders and crowds of parents. She said it was a strange situation.
"It's a little disorienting," Secrist said as she surveyed the midday scene.
The early dismissals were occurring all across town by early Friday afternoon, as Fairfield's 10,000 students were released from the morning lockdown.
Police Lt. James Perez said it was the first time an incident of this size had happened in town.
"We have never had an incident in the schools of this magnitude," he said. It was a "monumental" task to clear and secure the 17 school buildings, and Fairfield police had help from other police agencies to assist.
Superintendent David Title thanked the town's parents for their cooperation and asked them to be patient as the kids began to leave school.
"While it is taking longer than normal, the dismissals are going well," Title said. "We have had a larger number of parents than norwalk at each school."
Many children headed to buses to go home, but others got rides home.
"Parents who have come to the schools are being allowed to take their children home," Title said. He said the school parking lots, which are already busy, were more congested than usual.
"We are asking parents to wait home and allow the children to take the buses home," Title said. "Stay home and let us bring the children to you."
One parent outside Tomlinson praised the handling of the situation.
"I think it's good practice," she said of the lockdown. "Of course, I'd rather it not be done. This day and age, I guess we have to." Two Seymour police cars were at the school along with Fairfield police and firefighters.
Parent Karen Haas said she was relieved that it all turned out to be a false alarm.
"I was really scared," she said at Tomlinson as she picked up her daughter. "You just hope that it was just a hoax."
Haas said that she was relieved that her daughter was able to eat lunch during the lockdown.
"That's a good sign that the kids are calm enough to eat lunch," Haas said.
All after-school and sporting events — home and away — were canceled for Friday. The district planned to hold Saturday events and games.
The threats came during what police believe to be a "swatting" incident, when callers report false information of possible violent activity or threats in order to see a police tactical response.
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