The safety precaution disrupted sixth and seventh hour classes forcing teachers to lock classroom doors and turn off lights. Kirkwood police responded. Parents were notified there was no 'imminent danger.'
It turns out the suspected intruder works for St. Louis television station KSDK-TV. He was conducting an investigation into school security according to a statement from the station.
The Channel 5 staff member left his name and cell phone number with an office assistant after asking to speak to a security staff member. "No one notified this was maybe a test," Kirkwood Supt. Tom Williams said. When the staff member failed to answer his cell phone, and three calls to the Channel 5 newsroom went unanswered, the lockdown was ordered.
Williams said the district will err on the side of safety, but he admitted the lockdown created a 'lot of dysfunction.'
Kirkwood High School junior Madison McMullin said she was nervous but not as nervous as during previous lockdowns. "They said no imminent threat so no one panicked too much. A lot of the parents panicked more than the students did," she said.
KSDK released this statement about school safety on Thursday afternoon, "NewsChannel 5 recognizes the importance of safety in our schools. As part of a continuing investigation this afternoon, we visited five local schools.
One of our employees assigned to this investigative report visited Kirkwood High School. He entered and walked his way toward the office, asking a teacher for directions after a few minutes. There, he asked if he might discuss the school's security. He identified himself by name and gave the office his phone number.
When the security official could not be reached, our employee left the premises without escort.
Approximately an hour later – after our visit – the high school was put on lock down. This lock down certainly was not the intent of our visit."
The station also visited elementary schools in the Frances Howell and Parkway school districts. Both districts confirm that the same news outlet visited the schools. This e-mail was sent to students at Becky-David Elementary, "Today our school’s security procedures were tested by an anonymous member of the media. Our secretary followed all procedures and pursued additional questioning with the visitor when she suspected something atypical was occurring. The visitor at that point identified himself as a member of the media and immediately left the building. The secretary notified me and we alerted district administration. The Director of Facilities and Operations, who oversees safety and security, came to review security footage and debrief the situation to ensure the incident was not of a threatening nature.
We have safety and security procedures in place which we diligently follow to ensure everyone’s safety. Thanks for your continued cooperation in following those procedures when you visit Becky-David Elementary."