What kind of personal “breakdown” led the father of a first-grade daughter to take the girl’s elementary school teacher hostage in a seven-hour confrontation that ended with the dad’s death in a police SWAT shooting?
Detectives will try Wednesday to determine what sparked the father’s mental issues that were so severe his family hid his car keys before the Riverside elementary school ordeal.
The woman teacher taken hostage is in her 70s. She was taken to a hospital with unspecified minor injuries after she was rescued and was in good physical condition Tuesday night, according to police.
Law enforcement authorities said 27-year-old Luvelle Kennon of Riverside, who had a daughter in first grade, entered Castle View Elementary School on Shaker Drive in the Canyon Crest area of the city around 11:15 a.m. Tuesday, prompting the evacuation and lockdown of the campus.
A substitute teacher confronted the intruder but wound up being punched in the face. He was taken to Riverside Community Hospital for treatment of a broken nose and facial injuries, police said.
Kennon, meanwhile, barricaded himself in a classroom with the first- grade teacher, identified by her daughter as Linda Montgomery, who has been teaching at the school for at least 20 years.
“She loves teaching — she’s still teaching,” Michelle Montgomery told ABC7 in Los Angeles.
The campus was evacuated, with students and staff moved to nearby Castle View Park for their safety. Riverside Unified School District officials said all students had been accounted for and were released to their parents at the park.
People who identified themselves as relatives of Kennon told ABC7 he had a “breakdown” of some type Tuesday morning. His family members said they took away Kennon’s car keys, but he still managed to make his way to the campus.
The standoff continued until shortly before 6 p.m. Tuesday, when police burst into the classroom and shot the suspect, Riverside Police PIO Ryan Railsback said. Police detonated two flash-bang grenades as a diversion before bursting inside.
Railsback said he did not know how many times the suspect was shot and that it’s not immediately clear what specifically prompted police to open fire. It also was not immediately clear if Kennon was armed.
“We’ve got officers that had to take action and they did it very well, and they saved the victim,” Railsback said.
Montgomery was taken to a local hospital for medical evaluation and was in good condition, police said.
Riverside Unified School District spokesman Justin Grayson said Castle View Elementary will remain closed for the rest of the week, but the district will make counselors available at Taft Elementary School on Mission Grove Parkway or the central registration office on Arlington Avenue for the benefit of any student or staff member affected by the standoff.
— City News Service