Police: Philly man's threats to dispatch center triggered Gateway schools lockdown
A Philadelphia man accused of threatening to shoot police was apprehended Monday at the Days Inn Motel on Moss Side Boulevard.
Daniel F. Hendrie, 61, was arraigned on two counts of terroristic threats after police traced calls to the room in which he was staying in the motel.
Hendrie is accused of calling the Monroeville dispatch center late Sunday night and early Monday morning and threatening to “shoot it out” with police and to “kill cops,” Chief Steve Pascarella said.
Hendrie was unarmed when police arrested him. Police gathered the rest of his belongings as Hendrie yelled obscenities at Pascarella.
“You're not doing your job if they like you,” Pascarella said.
Hendrie has a criminal record in Philadelphia dating to the early 1970s. He pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in 2005 and simple assault in 1976, court records show.
No attorney for Hendrie was listed on Allegheny County Court documents.
A clerk at the front desk of the hotel declined to comment.
An Altoona couple who was in town for the Steelers game said they heard the commotion of the arrest from their second-floor room.
“They were out there saying, ‘Come out. It's the police!' ” Carol Guerin, 57, of Altoona said. “So I said, ‘We'll stay in a little bit longer.'”
Pascarella said that a couple of the threatening phone calls were traced to a wooded area behind Gateway Campus, where there are three school buildings — Gateway High School, Moss Side Middle School and Cleveland Steward Jr. Elementary.
The campus is less than a mile from the motel.
School officials placed each of the buildings on lockdown at 8:20 a.m.
Gateway Superintendent Nina Zetty said she was on her way to a school-safety seminar in Allison Park at the time of the incident and had to manage the lockdown from her car.
High school Principal Bill Short was posted outside of the auditorium during the lockdown with a walkie-talkie in one hand while watching the campus' main entrance.
Gateway staff followed safety protocol that was adopted during a training seminar with law-enforcement and safety specialists last spring — a few weeks after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut.
Once the assistant principal at the high school announces a lockdown, students and teachers are instructed to remain in their classrooms while administrators and security perform a sweep of the school, Short said.
Classes had resumed by 10:15 a.m., and, according to a districtwide email sent by Zetty, “… at no time was student and/or staff safety compromised.”
Monroeville police officers were stationed on the perimeter of the campus as an added layer of protection.
“You gotta do defense,” Pascarella said. “Keep in mind, we didn't know anything about (the suspect). We didn't know what he looked like. We didn't know anything accept that (Verizon told us) the phone calls were moving.”
Verizon spokeswoman Laura Merritt said Tuesday that it's possible that the signal moved without the phone moving, though Verizon officials were unable to say specifically what might have caused that to happen before this paper went to deadline.
Kyle Lawson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8755, or firstname.lastname@example.org.