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'Intruder' Scare Response Praised by DA

District Attorney James Martin said the massive emergency response stemmed from initial call that man at Parkland High School appeared to be wearing suicide-bomb vest.

Lehigh County District Attorney James Martin commended law enforcement agencies Tuesday afternoon for their handling of the Parkland "intruder" case on Friday and disclosed more information on what had triggered the massive emergency response -- a call that a man wearing what appeared to be a suicide-bomb vest had been seen at Parkland High School.

Four hours later, law enforcement found and contacted the person -- a high school student, exercising, who had been wearing what appeared to be a camouflage vest. The student plans to go into the military and had placed sand-filled water bottles in his vest to enhance his workout, a release from the district attorney's office said.

“What happened from the time of the initial call to police until the school was declared safe was a coordinated response by many agencies who pooled their discipline and training in a situation where calmness and swift reaction were necessary to ensure the safety of everyone in the school,” Martin said in the prepared release.

“For the students and personnel inside the school and the anxious parents outside the school who had received alarming communications from their children, it was a harrowing experience.”

“Fortunately, we could allay their fears. I hope the community takes comfort in knowing that law enforcement agencies were ready to handle the situation and knew what they had to do and how to do it. If this had been a serious threat, agencies were prepared and their personnel conducted themselves admirably.”

Thirty-three agencies responded to a request by South Whitehall police for assistance, including police and fire departments, emergency response teams, ambulance services and emergency management.

Eighty percent of those responding to a Patch poll said the massive emergency response was appropriate. 

South Whitehall police Lt. John T. Christman said that, given the size of the high school, the department knew it could not search its five wings alone. “There are more than 200 exterior doors,” Christman said in the prepared release. “We knew it would probably take five or six hours to search the building.”

The department asked for assistance from surrounding departments, and emergency management from Lehigh County, South Whitehall and Upper Macungie Township summoned fire and ambulance crews to stand by, Christman said in the release. North Penn Goodwill Fire Department in Montgomery County brought food, beverages and supplies for first responders.

Those responding to the "intruder" report knew their role and had a rough idea of the high school's layout, thanks to a drill at the school in August, Christman said.

According to the district attorney's office, the following agencies responded to the incident: police from South Whitehall, Catasauqua, Emmaus, Salisbury Township, Coopersburg, Macungie, Whitehall Township, Alburtis, Berks-Lehigh Regional, Allentown and Bethlehem; Pennsylvania State Police, who dispatched investigators and a helicopter; members of the Lehigh County Homicide Task Force, Auto Theft Task Force and Drug Task Force; emergency response teams from Lehigh County, Bethlehem and Allentown; an Allentown bomb squad; ambulance services from Cetronia, route: {:controller=>"listings", :action=>"show", :id=>"cetronia-ambulance-corps"} -->, Allentown, Macungie and Northern Valley; emergency management from Lehigh County, South Whitehall and Upper Macungie; fire department personnel from , , TriClover, 

Repub Demo September 19, 2012 at 02:21 AM
what was the actual dollar cost for the response, this has to be able to be quantified what are they hiding? who is paying the bill? We the taxpayers, we have a right to know how much this cost....
Kathy Henninger September 19, 2012 at 06:38 PM
Can you put a price on a child's life? Or a few hundred children's lives? REALLY Repub?BOTH of my sons go to this school and I can't tell you how comforting the response to this situation was for me. Be it real or a false alarm. I know each and every one of the responders learned something that night and regardless of the fact that it was a phenomenal success, though a false alarm, I rest assured that if there is ever the need for a next time the repsonse would be even better. And THAT is priceless!
phylliss ward October 14, 2012 at 03:09 PM
Here's a thought - why did that student not let anyone know what he was doing to begin with so all the stress be avoided in the first place. Oh and does Parkland not have cameras to see who is entering the building after school? I am perplexed at how this all played out, as being new to this community, I had to figure out how to get home as there was no information on the radio as to a detour being present until coming to the blockade. Just a thought for the future as I am happy security was available, but information was not given at the time.

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