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Miscommunication Causes Falls Church Schools to Take Security Measures

A misunderstanding between a teacher and parent about the Tornado Watch prompted police activity near two Falls Church elementary schools Friday.

Two Falls Church schools took precautionary measures Friday after a parent misunderstood a teacher's comment about the Tornado Watch. Patch file photo
Two Falls Church schools took precautionary measures Friday after a parent misunderstood a teacher's comment about the Tornado Watch. Patch file photo
If you happened to see police activity around Falls Church Friday afternoon or read something on Twitter about police patrols around two elementary schools, it all started due to some miscommunication.

A quick conversation between a parent and a teacher Friday led to the police activity and city schools taking security measures in Falls Church, according to a city spokeswoman.

Police went out on patrol looking for a suspicious person while schools took security measures for at least an hour Friday afternoon. It turns out there was no suspicious person in the area.

"We were the victim of rumors spreading and people not understanding what was going on," said city spokeswoman Susan Finarelli.

Finarelli explained that it all started Friday after a parent picked up a child at Thomas Jefferson Elementary. "A teacher was waving goodbye and said 'Hey, have a good weekend,' and told the parent about the Tornado Watch that was out for the area. The parent misunderstood and thought the teacher meant there was a security warning at the school.  

The parent drove off from the school and called a cousin who also has a child in a Falls Church elementary school. "They took it to mean a school security warning was out, about a gunman," said Finarelli.

The cousin soon called their own child's school, Mount Daniel Elementary, in Falls Church to ask about the school "warning." Officials there then contacted police.

"The police did what they needed to do," said Finarelli. They patrolled the area around the schools. Eventually officials figured out there had been miscommunication between the teacher and the parents.

"Luckily, it was the best circumstances possible," Finarelli said, "just misinformation."

See the timeline of tweets sent out Friday by FCCPS in the Storify document by using the scrollbar on the righthand side.
John Strother February 22, 2014 at 11:13 AM
Miscommunication, That is a false police report. It was a lie that got spread to the point someone made a FALSE Police report. Why wasn't that someone arrested for it? Oh it was a mistake on that one cousin and the other cousin ran with it and did the report. Well gosh darn it, it still was a false report to the Police.

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