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Questions Remain After Mamaroneck Early Dismissal of 6 Schools for “Regional Threat”

Mamaroneck High School

School administrators met early Wednesday to evaluate and improve emergency procedures after Mamaroneck Schools called an early dismissal Tuesday.

The District’s approximately 5600 students at six area schools were released to parents and guardians after a murder suspect in Tarrytown was said to be seen in Mamaroneck.

But the District said it took the measures only in response to information it received from Mamaroneck Village Police that the suspect had a potential connection to the Larchmont Acres apartment complex on Richbell Road and Palmer Avenue, said District Spokesperson Debbie Manetta. Later, the District

The spokeswoman for Mamaroneck Village Police says the Department did not provide any such information to the District.

The gunman was wanted by Police and the FBI in connection with a fatal shooting at a garden apartment in Tarrytown around 7:00 am Tuesday.

Schools went into lock out in Tarrytown, Irvington, Dobbs Ferry, Hastings, Ardsley and Elmsford in response to that shooting.

The suspect was later apprehended in New York City.

Parents and students in Larchmont and Mamaroneck say messages they received from the District were numerous, confusing, and created a chaotic end to the school day.

The first message, headed EMERGENCY CONTROLLED DISMISSAL, via email and text, and a robocall, received by parents at about 2:28 pm, said:

As a precaution right now due to a regional safety threat, we are asking that parents/guardians of Central School, Hommocks School, Murray Ave. School and Mamaroneck High School come pick up your children at school. We will be doing a controlled dismissal with police presence.

“The initial call, which identified only certain, specific schools in the district was terrifying,” one parent said. “Saying we have an emergency, police are at the schools and you have to come get your kids. It made it seem like something was happening at those schools.”

At Hommocks, one mother said she did not notice any safety procedures. “If safety of our children was a goal, they shouldn’t have flung open the doors to Hommocks and allowed hordes of adults stream in with out any scrutiny at all. And no police presence.”

The initial message was followed up at about 2:39 with a “REVISED EMERGENCY ANNOUNCEMENT” indicating there was “no immediate threat.” But by then, many parents said they were panicking.

“They should have said they wanted kids escorted home, instead of ‘come get them out of the school now’,” according to one parent.

A third message was sent adding two more schools, Chatsworth Avenue and Mamaroneck Avenue School to the emergency dismissal notice.

Students were to be released to parents or guardians that were previously registered as emergency contacts.

A Mamaroneck High School 10th grade girl said “the announcements were really scary.” A 10th grade boy says the measures put in place Tuesday made him “feel safe.” 

The suspect, identified as Cynelle Brown, 28, was later arrested at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York as he tried to buy a ticket to Wilmington, Delaware, according to a Port Authority official.  His gun was found in a trash can at an unknown location.

All afternoon and evening activities were cancelled for Tuesday, including a  Board of Education meeting scheduled for Tuesday evening. It was postponed until Wednesday at 7 pm. 


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Ralph DeMasi
Ralph DeMasi
March 1, 2018 9:44 PM

All schools should have been placed in lock out ( the potential danger is outside and may be in the area of the schools) No one leaves the schools and no one enters the schools. Parents should been advised through a text message blast and email and students should have been held inside where they would be safe until the police confirmed the suspect was no longer in the area.

March 2, 2018 7:02 PM
Reply to  Ralph DeMasi

I totally agree. Messages created much anxiety to the parents and it put the pressures on us teachers. I also believe we should have had a lock out. Thank God it didn’t amount to much and everyone was safe.

March 1, 2018 10:04 AM

Agree with the above comments, and would add: why were two elementary schools left out of the first announcement and then later added in? How would emergency responders have gotten to Hommocks Central or the High School with gridlock in place? And add Murray to the mix of wide open doors that anyone could’ve walked through. Utter failure and no explanation yet.

March 2, 2018 7:14 PM
Reply to  Dadman

Murray did not have wide opened doors. The same parents, and pick ups were exiting through any door in the building holding the doors opened to whoever wanted to enter the building. It has been communicated to parents through numerous emails, letters sent home of how important it is to only enter through the main door and exit only through the main door. It’s for the protection and safety of the children.

K O'Brien
K O'Brien
March 1, 2018 9:42 AM

My children go to Central and I think their teachers handled the emergency very well. Both my children had substitute teachers that day, who did just as good of a job of looking after their kids as their regular teachers would have, and the dismissal from both classrooms worked as well as it possibly could in the circumstances. However, I strongly believe that the District made the wrong call in calling for an emergency dismissal. If they believed there was a genuine threat from an individual in the local area, the schools should have been put on lock down. Instead, our schools opened their doors to a surge of adults entering the schools unchecked. I arrived at Central at probably the height of the chaos. There were dozens of adults trying to get into the school at the same time – far more than could be screened and checked, so we just flowed in unchecked. Anyone could have walked in, and if they were armed and intent on causing harm, the results would have been catastrophic. The corridors were filled with adults and children – a gunman would have been able to inflict serious damage in very little time. I am lucky enough to live within walking distance of the school. At no time on my way to collect my children did I see any police presence – no cars, no uniforms. In the time that it would have taken the authorities to respond to a shooter in the school, there would have been untold numbers of victims. The District needs to take a number of learning points from this experience.

March 2, 2018 7:18 PM
Reply to  K O'Brien

As a sub dismissing kids, I also agree that a lock out would have been a better choice than the chaos the District created with their numerous calls. Thank God nothing happened and all were safe.

John Cronin
John Cronin
February 28, 2018 9:18 PM

Thanks for investigating this matter on the behalf of the community. Something didn’t smell right yesterday, and it sounds like there was a break in the chain of command at the administrative level of this school district. The fact that the Mamaroneck Village PD didn’t or wouldn’t acknowledge any conversation with the district about this matter actually makes sense, given the fact that there was zero police presence at the Hommocks, Murray Avenue or Central apparently (contrary to what was promised in the emergency dismissal message about a “controlled” dismissal with police presence). It sounds as though the district made a hasty and ill-informed decision without the consultation of local law enforcement. Thankfully this wasn’t a real emergency, but yesterday’s chaos was completely unessasary and self-inflicted. It also illlustrates a clear problem having 3 different police departments overseeing our 6 schools, not to mention the fact that we have 3 sets of elected officials. Who exactly is in charge here in the event of a true emergency? It doesn’t sound there was any coordination yesterday between the town and the 2 villages. The district and the local PD’s owe this community a full explanation as to what really happened yesterday.

A. Troina
A. Troina
February 28, 2018 9:17 PM

How the district handled this emergency was horrific. If there was potentially an armed gunman running around Larchmont acres, why would you send children home and put them in harms way? Organize a lock down until you get an all clear from the police. I have children in two different schools and had a difficult time coordinating pickup for both given the traffic jam on the Post Road. Also the emergency drill protocol was broken by school administrators, with children allowed to leave on their own in the High School and other children who have district approved transportation not put on their bus.

March 2, 2018 7:23 PM
Reply to  A. Troina

I agree 100 %. A lock out would have been the safest and most intelligent thing to do. Thank God nothing happened and all were safe.

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