Students at Fort Myers Senior High School had their afternoon disrupted Thursday after a man ran into the school courtyard and through a school building before being detained.
According to Fort Myers Police Department, a man who was being evaluated for mental health at Lee Memorial Hospital ran onto the school’s campus. The hospital is next-door to the school.
Principal Robert Butz confirmed a patient made it into a school building before being safely apprehended by police off campus.
“The patient from Lee Health who accessed our campus ran through one of our buildings prior to being detained,” Butz said. The lockdown was in progress at the time.”
Police say the man was near the bus ramp near the west side of the schoolyard, and a picture taken by a student shows a yellow hospital gown on the floor.
“It is a little bit nerve-racking knowing that somebody can just walk into your school,” Quin Roberts said. “It’s like crazy to think like, you know, even after what’s happened in the past with school shootings and everything like that somebody could just run on your school campus.”
The man left the school and was seen on neighbor’s surveillance cameras walking through backyards.
“I know they have safety protocols in place, but it’s alarming that he got from the hospital and on the campus and onto the courtyard, which is right where they go to lunch,” school parent Whitney Wilcoxson said.
Wilcoxson and other parents hope this never happens again.
Rich Kolko, WINK news Safety & Security Specialist, says the The School District of Lee County’s security team will work to make sure it doesn’t.
“It’s not going to be one fixed thing that secures all the schools,” Kolko said. “There are going to be gates that are open or students that let other students in, or a gate could be broken, or somebody didn’t have their card. This changes all the time, and that’s why they’ve got a security team that is analyzing, assessing and making those changes.”
The District said the patient ran past a security guard and into the courtyard, adding the school was under a lockdown for 11 minutes as police chased and apprehended a patient from the hospital across campus.
Teaching and learning continued after the incident.
FMPD said the patient was immediately taken into custody. The patient is not facing any charges.
“The District’s safety and security department, along with the Fort Myers Police Department, will be at school tomorrow to review campus security. We have also scheduled a meeting with security personnel from Lee Health,” District spokesperson Rob Spicker sent in an email.