Gun at Community College Causes Daycare Scare

A student with a gun at the Community College of Philadelphia Wednesday brought fear to parents of children as young as six weeks old, since a daycare facility sits on the school's main campus.

"I was definitely worried," said Anissa Conner, mother of 5-year-old Amarillys who was at KinderCare's College Child Development Center at 440 N. 16th St. when the incident occurred.

A 23-year-old student stormed into a chemistry classroom around lunchtime, accused another student of ratting on him to security and then brandished a gun, according to other students in the class at the time.

SWAT officers evacuated the West Building where the class was held, while other staff and students on campus were told to shelter in place. Around 12:30 p.m., police posted on Twitter that a search of the West building and other campus facilites was underway as a precaution.

"I found out about it at 12:40 pm through a text message my friend sent me," Conner said. "Then I tried calling the school and couldn't get through."

Concerned for her daughter's safety, Conner contacted one of the KinderCare teachers on her personal phone.

"When I got ahold of someone, they said they were in the process of calling all the parents," said Conner, who relayed that people were not allowed in or out of the daycare until police gave the all clear. The kids were told to lay down on their cots.

The daycare -- with about 80 children inside -- was placed on lockdown after the College Child Development Center's director learned of the gun on CCP's campus and received advice from the police and the college liaison, said Colleen Moran, a KinderCare spokeswoman.

"The staff knows what is going on, but the children are thinking it is an indoor recess kind of day," she said. "[The director] was calling families, but in the midst of her notifying families, they were showing up and calling."

Conner was frustrated a more modern and speedier notification system was not in place.

"A mass email or mass text would be a great start," she said. "If you are not a student at CCP, you might not think to check the community college's website for emergency information."

"Keep the parents informed and let them know you have an emergency plan in place," she said.

Another parent, Juliet Geldi, found out about the incident about two hours after the daycare put the lockdown in place.

"I got a phone call and usually it's, "He's sick, can you come pick him up?" said Geldi, mother of 1-year-old Graham. "The first thing out of my mouth was, 'Are you all fine?"

Moran explained individual phone calls to families is the typical process if one of the Portland, Ore.-based childcare and education provider's 1,600 centers goes under lockdown.

"We try our hardest to notify parents," she said. "But when something like this happens, there is always going to be someone who finds out about it on Twitter or some other way before we get to them."

While the daycare was under lockdown, parents could pick up their kids -- although police escorted the children out of the building, Moran said.

Both moms say the KinderCare teachers put them at ease once they learned everyone was safe, but the alarming incident still raises concerns.

"I trust the staff, I trust the security," Conner said. "But I would like to find out how protective the glass is."

"I don't want to worry about a stray bullet coming through the glass and hurting a child,' she added.

Geldi, who assumed the delayed notification was due to the lockdown, is troubled about what a gun on CCP's campus means for a country still reeling from a mass shooting that left seven dead in Santa Barbara Friday.

"I could go on about the larger issues here, but I won't get into a political discussion," Geldi said. "I'm flabbergasted."

Contact Alison Burdo at 610.668.5635, or follow @NewsBurd on Twitter.

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