Menifee, CA – An off-duty Riverside Police Department (RPD) officer was arrested at an elementary school on Tuesday, after police received a call that a man was at the school with a gun.
Officer Mark Delarosa, 35, was charged with being in possession of a weapon on school grounds, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office (RCSO) said in a statement.
Assistant superintendent Trevor Painton said that Mesa View Elementary School and three other schools in the district were placed on lockdown on Tuesday afternoon after a burglary was reported in the area, the Menifee 24/7 reported.
Officer Delarosa responded to the school after the lockdown was announced because he had a child who attended there.
Another parent, Autumn Shumway, said she came to the school to pick up her sick child when she saw Officer Delarosa running through the parking lot with a gun in-hand.
She said he came “sprinting toward” her before she had the opportunity to park her vehicle, and asked to use her cell phone.
“He was running from the front of the office and he had a gun in his hand,” Shumway said to Menifee 24/7. “He shouted to me to stop the car and roll down my window. I recognized him as being a parent of a student at the school, so I determined him not to be a threat to me. He used my phone to call 911 and gave them a complete description of himself and that he had a gun. He identified himself as an off-duty police officer and that he was going to proceed onto campus.”
After Officer Delarosa handed her phone back, Shumway said she remained on the line with the 911 operator and watched as the officer as he went towards the school. She explained that she suspected he hopped a fence that led to the rear school grounds.
“I assume he got there early as well, saw the front doors locked or knew about the lockdown from listening to a scanner or something,” Shumway said to Menifee 24/7. “I don’t think the precautionary lockdown was that big a deal. My kids have been on precautionary lockdowns when a bank was robbed five miles away. If he wouldn’t have brought out a gun, it wouldn’t have made the lockdown turn crazy. That escalated it a hundred fold.”
Officer Delarosa was quickly spotted by a police helicopter and officers on the school grounds.
“I heard them shout at him two, maybe three times,” Shumway told Menifee 24/7. “That’s the weird thing in question. If he’s a cop, why didn’t he surrender right away? The only thing I can think is that he went into cop mode when he knew about a lockdown and wanted to get in there quick.”
Officer Delarosa was taken into custody, and no one was injured during the incident, the RCSO said.
Investigation into the incident is ongoing.
According to Menifee 24/7, some parents expressed frustration that the school did not immediately notify them about the lockdown via text. A group of parents who were waiting in line to pick up their children were told about the lockdown at 1:45 p.m., and others received a brief letter just prior to their students’ 2:20 p.m. dismissal.
A phone message was not sent out by the school until 4:30 p.m.
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