Updated 04/24/2009 07:19 PM
Teacher In Police Custody Following Standoff
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A New Millennium Business Academy Middle School teacher who barricaded himself inside a classroom Friday has been taken into police custody, according to the Department of Education.
According to the United Federation of Teachers, Francisco Garabitos, a 30-year veteran of the DOE, holed himself inside the classroom at around 9 a.m., threatening to blow up the school.
All 1,200 students and dozens of faculty of M.S. 328 in Morrisania, which houses three schools, were evacuated from the building.
Parents and students said they were frightened by the day's events.
"I found out from my son," said one mother. "He called me at work from somebody's cell phone. The teacher was screaming in the background about parents coming to pick up kids. It's crazy down there, just crazy."
"They said there was a teacher with mental issues and he turned his computer into a bomb," said a student.
Police say a search of the building turned up no explosives or firearms and no injuries were reported.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the teacher, who is the UFT representative for the school, was upset because he had been suspended.
"His grievance was that he was being disciplined for allegedly striking a student," Kelly said. "That happened yesterday and he was told not to come back to the school. He came back this morning, he wanted the principal to be transferred, that was his main demand."
But the president of the parents association said it is too early to rush to judgment.
"All I know is that everybody has been blowing it out of proportion," said the PTA president. "There is no bomb. There are no weapons, nothing like that. It's just someone trying to make a point across as a teacher. He was trying to get himself heard, that's the way I see it. The kids were evacuated from the school safely. They have been removed from the premises and have been put in good hands."
Garabitos is currently being questioned by police and will undergo a psychological evaluation.