Tonawanda News — TOWN OF TONAWANDA — As police and fire department activity buzzed around a Fries Road home Monday, a flurry of activity was also going on behind the scenes at the Ken-Ton School District.
Superintendent Mark Mondanaro said he spent the day in constant communication with town Police Chief Anthony J. Palumbo as the situation developed, getting updates and making decisions about the schools’ level of alert based on the district safety plan and Palumbo’s advice.
From there, Mondanaro said, he alerted the district principals about the situation and the emergency status.
“It used to be walkie talkies. In this day and age, honestly, it’s cell phones, and the principals know that,” Mondanaro said. “The reality is when you have as many as 16 buildings ... we break into a team of three to four people and do that same verbal contact. We need to know the plan is being implemented and that is the only way to do that.”
Police said Joseph Hollywood, 60, started the fire at his 163 Fries Road home and was inside with an unknown number of firearms when fire crews and police arrived.
The district posted a notice on its website Monday morning warning parents and residents that the police department had advised “all school district buildings should not allow anyone to leave or enter at this time” due to a “possibly deranged individual.” A text through the district E-Alerts system went out at 10:53 a.m. about the lockout status.
A little after 1 p.m., Mondanaro issued a statement saying police told him the lockdown was no longer needed. However, at 3:24 p.m., an E-Alert went out about a delay to the dismissal of Edison Elementary, Franklin Middle and Kenmore East schools, as a SWAT team searched a nearby Mayville Avenue home for Hollywood. At 4 p.m., the students were allowed to leave.