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Report of man with rifle prompts lockdown at Roseland schools

A caller who reported a man with a rifle was walking in Roseland resulted in brief school lockdowns at four campuses Wednesday morning until Sonoma County sheriff's deputies found the rifle really was a cane.

A teacher heading to school in the area called deputies at about 8:15 a.m. to report seeing a suspicious man with a scarf over his face and what could be a rifle under a jacket, sheriff's Lt. Steve Brown said.

The call brought a swift response as numerous deputies began searching the area and contacting school officials.

"We locked down all of our campuses as a precautionary measure," said Roseland School District Superintendent Gail Andrade Ahlas. "We did our lockdown routine. The kids knew just want to do, they were great."

Officials at Roseland, Sheppard and Roseland Creek elementary schools and Roseland University Prep High School, with about 2,300 students, hustled students arriving to school into classrooms and locked the doors.

Some parents were allowed into classrooms with their children, said Andrade Ahlas, who stood outside Sheppard Elementary to speak with worried parents.

While no one mentioned last week's mass shooting that killed 26 students and adults at a Connecticut elementary school, the attack was in everyone's thoughts, said the superintendent.

"It was just one of those things. Everybody knew we were being extra careful because of that," Andrade Ahlas said.

At about 8:45 a.m. deputies found a man who matched the description and the teacher verified it was the same man she had seen. He was carrying a cane, Brown said.

As students spilled out of classrooms and the school walkways teemed with life, parents were visibly relieved.

"Now I'm better," said Hipolito Ruiz, whose wife had alerted him to the lockdown when she brought their 8-year-old son to school. "Before it was scary."


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