Mamaroneck's schools were locked down Thursday afternoon after an armed stranger tried to gain entrance to the district's middle school, officials said.

The man tried to enter a locked side door at Hommocks Middle School's pool area shortly after 1:30 p.m., the district said in a statement. A school supervisor noticed what appeared to be a gun underneath his coat, and the man told the official that he was armed.

The man said he had left an article of clothing at the pool area during the weekend, said Town of Mamaroneck police Lt. Robert Koziak.

The man left immediately after the official ordered him off the premises, according to district officials.

All schools in the district were quickly locked down -- meaning no unauthorized person was allowed to enter the building -- and police were called to the scene, said district spokeswoman Debbie Manetta.

Students were scheduled to leave at their normal dismissal times Thursday, which started around 2:45 p.m., Manetta said, though afternoon and evening activities have been canceled.

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There will be a police presence at the district's buildings Friday as a precaution, officials said.

Police are continuing their search for the man, Koziak said. He does not face any immediate charges because he did not make any threats and did not brandish a gun, but he could face weapons counts if the investigation reveals he did, in fact, carry a firearm onto school grounds.

Authorities described him as being 5-feet-8, 50-55 years old, with a medium build, brown hair and fair skin. He was wearing a black North Face jacket and a white V-neck undershirt, according to Koziak.

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The incident comes at a time of heightened school security and fears about student safety in light of the deadly Newtown, Conn., shootings Dec. 14 in which 26 people, including 20 students, were shot to death.

On Thursday, students from Sandy Hook Elementary returned to classes for the first time since the massacre. They went to a refurbished school building in the neighboring town of Monroe, Conn., as their former elementary school is still being treated as a crime scene.

Efforts to make the Newtown survivors feel more at home at Monroe's Chalk Hill Middle School included bringing their chairs and desks from their old school, raising bathroom floors so the smaller elementary school students can reach the toilets and painting the classroom walls with the same colors and hanging the same pictures that the students knew at Sandy Hook.

Officials have even renamed the building Sandy Hook Elementary School.

But some aspects provided a stark reminder of December's tragedy. Several police officers were guarding the entrance to the school and were checking IDs of parents dropping off children.

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In the Hudson Valley, school officials had boosted security in the days immediately after the Newtown shootings and had reviewed security protocols. Some districts made permanent changes, such as locking front doors at elementary schools. Others entrusted safety committees with reviews of policies in the coming months.

Although the National Rifle Association has proposed putting armed security in every school, in general, Hudson Valley school leaders have opposed the idea.

 

With The Associated Press