NORWALK, Conn. – The children didn't cry as an armed standoff proceeded next door, Norwalk child-workers said.
The kids, who are from 15 months to 4 ½ years old, had been woken from their naps to be moved to a safer part of the building at the Norwalk Economic Opportunity Now (NEON) Child Development Program, as a gunman was in a home right outside their windows, Norwalk Police said.
Police officers armed with rifles were in the hallways, which teachers said led to the calm since kids love police officers, they said.
The evacuation went very smoothly, said Chiquita Stephenson, NEON's director of public relations. "In the time of trouble in the community they were able to do what they always do," she said of the staff.
Nevertheless, a few parents think things are unsafe, workers said. They had heard some parents say they weren't going to bring their children in Friday to the Flax Hill Road facility, the old Ben Franklin school. They thought there was some confusion: the parents thought there had been a hostage situation in the building itself.
"Although the endangerment was not to Ben Franklin, we are happy that our children and our staff were all safe," Stephenson said. "We work very closely with the Norwalk police, very closely with Mayor Richard Moccia and at all times we were in full communication with each other, which gives us the ability to make sure everybody is on site."
She was surprised, too. "You're not expecting to be in your home community or your school community and know that there's a standoff," she said. "We just wanted all of our residents and neighbors to be fine, but most importantly we just wanted to take care of our children and let our parents know that we were in control, we follow protocol. We want parents to know that they should be saluting their teachers, their administrators within the building, because they did a phenomenal job."
Parents can check NEON's website for information, she said. That includes her phone number.