Parents face hours-long wait before reuniting with students after shooting

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. - Parents faced an agonizing delay and some confusion in San Bernardino Monday as they sought to be reunited with children who have been evacuated from North Park Elementary School after an apparent murder-suicide on campus that left three people died and a student injured.

By 4:30 p.m., all students who were in the classroom at the time of the shooting were back with their parents, the superintendent said.

At 1:15 p.m., parents were told to head to Cajon High School, at 1200 West Hill Drive. But authorities later indicated that North Park students were being taken to the university campus of nearby Cal State San Bernardino, 5500 University Parkway.

The university said the elementary students were being taken to PE Building 100. Parents and guardians should check in — with photo identification — at Cajon High, and they will then be escorted to the university campus to be reunited with their students, the university said.

Parents who went to the university campus were frustrated Monday afternoon as they waited. One woman who was waiting to pick up her nephew said she had been to all three campuses, KTLA reported.

“We went from North Park to Cajon High School, and then back over here, and we have to go back to Cajon High School. So, for the parents that haven’t seen their kids, it’s very, very sad,” said the woman, who gave her name as Jennifer.

San Bernardino Police Department Chief Jarrod Burguan sought to clarify the confusion on Twitter, directing parents to the high school but saying children were taken to the university.

Then, at a news conference about 12:45 p.m., San Bernardino City Unified School District Superintendent Dale Marsden again sought to explain, asking for patience. He said parent-child reunions will take place at Cajon High.

“We’re asking all parents to go to Cajon High School, and that is where they will be reunited with their students. If they go anywhere else, it will be very difficult to release their child properly,” he said. “Their patience with the process will be helpful.”

It may take three hours before parents are reunited with children, the Police Department and the school district warned at 12:22 p.m.

Marsden said some students may need to be interviewed by investigators, which could contribute to the delay, Marsden said.

Parents with questions about picking up their children were asked to call the school district office at 909-381-1100.

The elementary school, the high school and the university are all located within a mile along Northpark Boulevard West.

The shooting left a special needs teacher and 8-year-old boy dead and another boy in stable condition at local trauma center. The gunman fatally shot himself, police said.

The North Park campus will be closed for at least two days amid the investigation, the school district superintendent said.

“This is a tragic event. It’s going to take time for our heads, our hearts to heal, and our patience with each other,” he said. “We need each other to walk hand in hand, to heal.”

North Park Elementary School had 531 students in the 2015-16 school year, the most recent year for which state enrollment data is available.