SILVER SPRING, Md. — Montgomery County police have cited a man with criminal trespassing after he entered Springbrook High School in the White Oak Section of Silver Spring Thursday without being detected by school authorities.
Witnesses say the man told students he was searching for a girl he had met at a nearby McDonald's. Concerned students made videos of the intruder wandering in hallways and alerted school officials.
Witnesses and school officials estimate the man was in the building for at least 20 minutes. The man left before administrators and security workers could react.
The intruder, who WUSA9 is not identifying because he was not arrested, lives in a D.C. homeless shelter, according to police. He seemed to be making little sense on the video as students tried to talk to him.
Witnesses who asked WUSA9 not to reveal their identities, said the man entered the school after meeting a female student at a nearby McDonald's and followed her to school. They claim he sat in the office for a few minutes but was ignored.
Witnesses claim the intruder left the office unchallenged and began wandering the hallways saying he was looking for the girl he met.
He entered a girls bathroom before leaving the school, according to one source.
Based on a description from witnesses, police caught up to him in a neighborhood about a mile away.
The man was given a criminal trespass citation, but was not arrested, according to police.
Springbrook Principal Stephanie Valentine sent a letter home to parents and staff informing them of the incident.
"A stranger was inadvertently allowed access to our school premises by following a parent and student who entered our main entrance," Valentine reported in the letter. "It is essential that all members of our school community understand the importance of not allowing strangers into the building without proper authorization. Our main entrance, equipped with a visitor management system and trained staff, is designed to ensure that all individuals entering the school are properly screened and identified."
>Read the full letter sent to the Springbrook community below:
I am writing to inform you about a serious incident at our school today, Thursday, May 25, and to emphasize the importance of maintaining a safe and secure environment for our students, staff, and visitors. A stranger was inadvertently allowed access to our school premises by following a parent and student who entered our main entrance.
The individual was in the building for a short time and eventually exited the building. Once the school administration was made aware, we immediately worked with our school security team and called Montgomery County Police for support. Central office staff in the Department of Systemwide Safety and Emergency Management also coordinated with the police department resulting in the individual being located off campus, nearby the school.
It is essential that all members of our school community understand the importance of not allowing strangers into the building without proper authorization. Our main entrance, equipped with a visitor management system and trained staff, is designed to ensure that all individuals entering the school are properly screened and identified. This protocol exists to safeguard the well-being and security of everyone within our school and we will examine safety protocols and provide training and reminders to staff.
To help prevent such incidents from occurring in the future, we kindly request your assistance in reinforcing the following safety measures:
● All students, staff, and visitors should only enter the school building through the designated main entrance.
● Encourage your children to immediately report any unfamiliar or suspicious individuals they may encounter on school grounds to a teacher, staff member, or trusted adult.
● Remind your children about the importance of not engaging in conversations or interactions with strangers while on school property. Encourage them to seek assistance from a staff member or trusted adult if they have concerns or feel uncomfortable as soon as possible.
The safety and well-being of our students remain our top priority, and we take this incident very seriously. We appreciate your continued support in maintaining a secure learning environment for all. Together, we can ensure the safety and security of our school community.
Stephanie Valentine Principal
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