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'Somebody screwed up:' Volusia sheriff weighs in after stranger enters classroom

School district officials say security protocols weren't followed

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – As Volusia County school district officials investigate how an intoxicated man was able to enter a classroom, they're now admitting that security protocols weren't followed.

The incident happened Friday at Spruce Creek High School.

Deputies said Derek Marlowe, 51, rode his bike past an employee who was checking vehicles and students coming onto campus at 8:37 a.m. A school staff member who saw Marlowe used his cellphone to call the campus adviser to report the incident but never called it in through the school radio, a report said.

Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said a code red should have been initiated at that point.

“Somebody screwed up, really simple,” Chitwood said.

At about 8:47 a.m., deputies said Marlowe walked into a classroom with students inside and sat down at a desk. Once the teacher realized Marlowe was not affiliated with the school, he activated his classroom emergency button, records show.

Authorities said Marlowe was combative, smelled of alcohol, was slurring his words and made threatening comments when he was taken into custody. A pocketknife was found when deputies searched him, according to an arrest report.

On Tuesday, a spokeswoman from Volusia County Schools released a statement about the incident. 

"A lapse in security occurred at Spruce Creek High School on September 27, 2019. A man, with no business at the school passed the gate and entered a classroom. Security protocols were not followed. The Volusia County Schools Safety and Security team is carefully reviewing the incident with law enforcement and will better secure the campus to make sure all security protocols are followed," the  statement read.

Chitwood said he's glad no one was harmed.

“He could have had a gun. He could have had a grenade. He could have had anything,” the sheriff said.

Marlowe faces charges of trespassing on school grounds, campus disruption and disorderly conduct.


About the Author:

Adrienne Cutway

Adrienne Cutway joined News 6's digital team in October 2016 to cover breaking news, crime and community interest stories. She graduated from the University of Central Florida and began her journalism career at the Orlando Sentinel.

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