SOUTH MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - Police have arrested a man who prompted a precautionary lockdown at South Dade Senior High School after, officials said, parents and others spotted him near the campus armed with an assault rifle.
Multiple people reported that a man, who police later identified as 23-year-old Christian Edinger, was seen riding a dirt bike near the school with what appeared to be an AR-15 in a backpack.
Miami-Dade Police and Miami-Dade County Public Schools Police officers responded to the school, located along Southwest 167th Avenue and Biscayne Drive, in South Miami-Dade, Thursday morning.
Student Angel Erazo said the school was locked down shortly after the first bell.
“Around 7:40 is when we got into ‘Code Red,'” he said.
MDCPS officials said a student submitted a tip they had seen someone with a weapon near the school.
A 7News viewer took a picture of several police cruisers outside of the school.
Inside of the school, students recorded videos showing officers checking classrooms with their weapons drawn.
A MDPD helicopter hovered above the school and surrounding area, as well.
Students were locked in their classrooms as officers worked to clear the campus of any potential danger.
“We were able to deploy resources in and around the school community to ensure the safety and security of our students as they made their way to school,” Miami-Dade Schools Police Chief Edwin Lopez said.
7SkyForce HD flew over the scene where parents could be seen making their way onto the school’s campus.
“You don’t now what’s going on. It’s stressful,” said parent Tatiana Ambruster.
7News cameras captured several concerned parents gathered outside of the school as Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho calmed their fears.
Just before 10 a.m., officials said the lockdown had been lifted.
“The school is safe. All the students are safe,” Carvalho told parents outside the school.
He later spoke to the parents at the auditorium to explain what led to the emergency response.
“Because of a number of calls that came in directly to the school and to the police department,” he said.
Police said a tip led officers to a home about three blocks away from campus. When they came knocking, officials said, Edinger confessed and apologized before he was taken into custody. Officers located the firearm, which was not loaded.
Detectives spent hours at the suspect’s home where, they said, he confessed and apologized. 7News cameras captured a detective putting a backpack into a police unit.
Edinger has been charged with interfering with an educational institution and improper exhibition of a firearm.
At a news conference held Thursday afternoon, Carvalho addressed the school system’s response to the scare.
“What we are doing here today is in fact saying that the system in place is working,” he said. “The ‘see something, say something’ did not assume that what you saw is not necessarily a threat to the community or the schools [but] in fact was something that could not be ignored, do in fact, there was an individual man on an all-terrain vehicle with an AR-15 strapped to his back in close proximity to South Dade.”
Parents outside the school kept in contact with their children. Some of them were frustrated that this level of panic is now what so often follows such situations.
“At first he didn’t text me, so I was worried, and I came,” said parent Raquel Gorrostieta, “but then he texts me, and he said he was hiding in the room also.”
“This is not supposed to be happening. We’re not supposed to be going crazy because our kids are going to school,” said Ambruster.
Once the lockdown was lifted, the school district allowed parents to go into the school to pick up their children if they wanted, but they recommended keeping the students in school.
School district officials said hundreds of concerned parents showed up to inquire about their children’s safety. They stressed there was never a threat on campus, and no one was hurt.
Lopez said the school district will continue to take every potential threat seriously.
“We are not in the business of comfort. We are in the business of maintaining a safe and secure environment for our student, for our staff and for the parents who are rushing to the school during a critical incident,” he said.
Investigators said Edinger has no known association with the school. He was booked into the Miami-Dade County Jail on $1,500 bond.
He bonded out overnight Friday.
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