REDONDO BEACH — At approximately 2:12 p.m. Tuesday, a Los Angeles County sheriff’s helicopter circled the sky above the intersection near Torrance Boulevard and Prospect Avenue in Redondo Beach. Unbeknownst to most in the area, Torrance police had set up a containment area about a mile south, near Pacific Coast Highway and Prospect, while a search got underway for an armed residential burglar in the nearby neighborhoods.
Tulita Elementary School, only a half-mile away from the search area, was not ordered to lock down its facility by the Redondo Beach Police Department. Police did urge caution when contacted by school officials. Taking that under advisement, Tulita administrators voluntarily put their school on lockdown.
School secretary Debbie Collette said the possibility of an armed criminal helped steer the decision.
“The possible burglar had a gun, and was not that close to Tulita, but they had not yet contained him,” Collette said she was told by police. “At that point, to be safe, Tulita administrators decided to have a voluntary lockdown of the school.”
Principal Danielle Allphin reiterated those thoughts in an email to parents.
“We will always err on the side of caution to ensure the safety of our Tulita students,” her email stated.
“I was in communication with our district office and Redondo Beach Police Department throughout the lockdown,” Allphin added.
The school remained in lockdown mode for approximately 30 minutes. Police gave the okay around 2:45 p.m. to let students out.
Police dispatch confirmed the following: the suspect was considered armed and dangerous, but he did get away.
“Containment has now been broken but it was a Torrance incident that traveled into our city so we were assisting,” said the Redondo Beach dispatcher. “Since we were still chasing the suspect, it was a safe move on the part of the school, even though he was not necessarily in that particular neighborhood — it was close enough.”