BRANDON, Fla. — While deputies searched for a brazen bank robber, chaos broke out inside nearby Kingswood Elementary School.
“Other people and my friends were like, ‘Oh there's a lockdown’ and we're like, ‘What?’ Then, my teacher said go hide,” 10-year-old Araceli Martinez said.
The fourth-grader said she was scared, shocked and confused. Her school, along with 13 others were on lock-in.
“Normally we get books and put them over our heads as something to throw, but we didn't have time to do that. We just ran and some other kids ran behind our teacher’s desk because we've done this before,” Martinez said.
Martinez's mom said she couldn’t get in touch with her while she was at work-- so, she immediately started driving.
“I was actually very scared considering everything that has been going on, because they weren't very detailed. I was not sure if it was at the school or around the school,” Amanda Villalobos said.
School staff had just called not too long ago to let parents know they’d be having a planned lockdown drill. But, this lock-in was actually real.
“I listened to it and I was like, ‘Okay.’ Then, Hillsborough calls me and I was like, ‘Wow!’ Okay, this is serious,’” Villalobos said.
Hillsborough County deputies surrounded the school while teachers worked to calm down their students. They didn’t allow them to leave their classrooms and continued teaching.
“I started crying and a couple of other kids started crying. The teacher came in and was like, 'you guys are safe. We have all the doors locked and we have everybody here. Everything is going to be okay,'” Martinez said.
This was the family’s first experience like this. Their panic and worry eased once they saw each other again, but this incident still hits a little too close to home.
“It’s very scary to think that this person is still out on the loose,” Villalobos said.
Deputies are still searching for the person they think shot two men and tried to rob GTE financial. They said they think it could be the same person who has robbed other banks in the area.
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