School lockdown creates panic



    Students at Atascadero Junior High School were instructed to hide under their desks in locked classrooms for nearly an hour during a school lockdown Tuesday afternoon, while police searched for an armed robbery suspect in a nearby creek.

    Police helicopters and dogs took part in the search, which coincided with the end of the school day. Parents were left in the dark as an onslaught of calls overwhelmed the school’s phone lines. “My daughter called on her cell phone,� says Rob White. “She said the school had been locked down, but she didn’t know why. When I couldn’t get through to the school, I got panicky.�

    A 13-year-old student, Brena Hamlin-White, explains what happened. “They made us go under our desks for an hour. Some of the kids were crying. They were freaked out,� she says.

    Police say a male with a semi-automatic-style handgun forced an employee of Sunrise Donuts on El Camino Real to empty the cash register. He ordered two employees to the ground and fled the store on foot with the cash. Police are still searching for the suspect, described as a thin white male aged 18 to 22. Investigators ask anyone with information to call the Atascadero Police at 461-5051 or Crimestoppers at 781-4547.

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