POSTED: Saturday, January 12, 2013 - 12:11am
UPDATED: Saturday, January 12, 2013 - 10:06pm
Minutes seemed like hours for distressed parents, who swarmed outside of the gates at MacArthur Elementary Intermediate School this afternoon. They waited for the lockdown to be lifted so they would know their kids are safe, but the anticipation felt deadly.
"As soon as I saw that they weren't letting us through, I immediately panicked," said Nancy Correa.
"I feel very helpless right now. Like I want to be in there and just take them home but I can't," Michael Abeyta said.
One grandmother tried to remain hopeful that her grandson would soon be released safely.
"Try to remain calm. We know that our grandson has a pretty good head on his shoulders, and a lot of prayer," said Lanita Slayton.
Police cars and yellow tape surrounded the school and officers armed with rifles were on the lookout.
But after a search of the building failed to turn up a suspicious gunman, the lockdown was lifted. Parents reacted quickly and marched like soldiers to fetch their kids. Many were overcome with relief to see their children safe.
"The moment I saw him, it was just, oh my gosh, I can't even describe it. It's a terrible feeling knowing that something like this could happen here," said Correa.
Students described the mood inside during the lockdown.
"I was scared because something could have happened to me," said Zaira Carillo.
"The teacher said don't worry. She said she would do anything. She said she would even take a bullet for us," said Damian Johnson.