New details have emerged from authorities about how a man found hiding inside a room at Fairlands Elementary School on Friday morning had hopped over a fence and entered the school through an open door the night before.
The community message from Fairlands principal Heidi Deeringhoff on Sunday also confirmed knives were the weapons that authorities allege the intruder had at the campus – although officials have said the man had no weapons in hand when arrested and nobody was physically harmed during the incident that led to a schoolwide lockdown.
Revealing more about the sequence of events, Deeringhoff wrote that Fairlands staff were on their way to grab some items out of a storage room located in a "non-student area" on the second floor of the school when they found an unauthorized adult sitting in the room at around 10:47 a.m. Friday.
Pleasanton Police Department Sgt. Sgt. Marty Billdt said the man was later identified as 32-year-old Rhodney Henderson, a transient out of Berkeley.
According to Deeringhoff, Fairlands staff had determined during a Friday debrief meeting that the intruder had climbed the gate near the multipurpose room and entered the school through an open door more than 12 hours earlier while the school's custodians were finishing their nightly cleaning.
Deeringhoff also stated that custodial safety checks occur every weekday in the morning and evening and that the "procedures will be reviewed and updated with personnel."
"District office staff reviewed our external video surveillance system and viewed one lone person climbing over the fence around 8:20 p.m. Thursday night," Deeringhoff stated.
Upon discovering the intruder on Friday morning, staff locked the school down and remained near the exits of the storage room to monitor the situation during the lockdown until PPD arrived around 10:55 a.m.
"As called for in the school's safety plan, students and staff remained in their classrooms with the doors locked, blinds closed and lights off," Pleasanton Unified School District Superintendent David Haglund said in a statement to the community on Sunday. "An all-clear was issued, and the school resumed as normal routines at around 11:20 a.m., thanks to the fast response of our staff and PPD."
According to Deeringhoff, Henderson did not fight back or respond to staff and had remained in the storage room until PPD arrived.
"We are very grateful for the swift response from our students, staff, PUSD management and PPD," Deeringhoff said. "Our emergency procedures worked and all students and staff were safe. We will continue to reflect, refine, and work toward strengthening our safety and emergency-related processes and appreciate your support."
According to the Alameda County Sheriff's Office Inmate Locator online, Henderson was arrested on several charges including second-degree robbery, second-degree burglary and weapons on school grounds.
The weapons in question were knives that were believed to have been brought into the school by Henderson along with an iPad, headphones, food and tools, which were all found inside the storage room he was located in, during PPD's investigation, according to the principal on Sunday.
"A wrench and food items were found hidden in a back corner of a student bathroom stall which is located near to where the suspect entered the building," Deeringhoff stated in her notice on Sunday. "Additional knives were found outside a classroom in an interior hallway hidden in the bottom of a box."
Investigators later determined the intruder had three large kitchen knives taken from the school cafeteria, according to Billdt.
"He had access to the knives, but he didn't brandish the knives or threaten anyone with them," the sergeant told the Weekly. "The food wrappers he had around him when he was arrested was food he found at the school."
The ACSO Inmate Locator also cites an allegation of at least one prior felony conviction. His original bail amount, which was previously set at $127,500, is no longer listed. He is currently booked at Santa Rita Jail and is set to be arraigned on Tuesday morning (Oct. 10) at the East County Hall of Justice in Dublin.
Looking ahead, Haglund said in his notice to the community that while nobody was harmed during Friday's incident, counselors and social workers will be at the school and will make themselves available for students and staff for any support needed when the campus reopens on Tuesday -- following a scheduled off-day districtwide on Monday.
The superintendent also said that given the nature of the situation and how the situation raises "appropriate levels of concern at all school sites, we are actively collaborating with our site administrators to evaluate and enhance site safety protocols across the district."
In regard to the safety protocols that Haglund mentioned, PUSD communications director Patrick Gannon told the Weekly, "We are gathering information to have a discussion about how we can enhance site safety protocols."
Asked about how often the security footage is monitored, Gannon said, "The security cameras can be monitored remotely, however we don't have a staff member dedicated to monitoring them 24/7 (since the individual entered campus in the evening). The footage has and continues to be valuable to understand how the individual gained access to the campus."
Acknowledging that the district has been actively recruiting for additional nighttime janitors at Fairlands specifically, Gannon added, "I don't believe it was a lack of custodians that was the cause of the entry, however. There was an unlocked door while routine cleaning was taking place."