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Witness: Report of armed man at Elsie Allen High School halts elementary school basketball game

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A sixth-grade boys’ basketball game inside the Elsie Allen High School gym Thursday night was abruptly halted during the fourth quarter when someone reported a man with a gun in the audience, a witness said.

Faviola Ortiz was in the stands with her husband Dominic Ortiz, watching their 11-year-old son Sincere compete in the championship game of a four-day tournament, when officials stopped the clock with 2 minutes, 40 seconds left in the game.

“Nobody knew what was happening, and then the officials informed us there was a possible sighting of a gentleman carrying a gun,” she said.

While officials waited for Santa Rosa police officers to arrive, members of the audience blocked the gym’s exits, Ortiz said, allowing no one in or out of the gymnasium until authorities said it was safe.

The Santa Rosa Police Department did not answer multiple phone calls late Thursday for comment.

Beth Berk, spokeswoman for Santa Rosa City Schools, could only confirm that a sixth-grade basketball game was scheduled for tonight at the high school, and did not have any information about reported police activity on campus.

The three members of the Ortiz family huddled on the bleachers while they waited for the game to resume, mother and father comforting their son, a student at Strawberry Elementary School whose red team was playing against Strawberry Elementary School’s white team for the championship.

“He was pretty upset and shaken up,” Faviola Ortiz said. “We held him and told him everything would be OK, and we just sat there. The room got pretty quiet.”

She said she saw one police officer enter the gym, but that the authorities’ search seemed more focused on the rest of Santa Rosa campus.

After about 30 minutes the game resumed, and the red team won, 37-30.

When members of the audience exited the gym, they were greeted by police cars outside the doors.

“It was really frightening, to be quite honest with you,” she said.

You can reach Staff Writer Christi Warren at 707-521-5205 or christi.warren@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @SeaWarren.

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