911 calls show Lake Brantley students, parents 'didn't understand' code red was drill

Dec. 6 test sent 'hundreds of kids running' for their lives

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. – At first, dispatchers talking to scared parents of Lake Brantley High School students didn't know what to tell them, 911 calls from the day of the Dec. 6 code red drill released by the Seminole County Sheriff's Office show.

"I just received a text message from my son, who goes to Lake Brantley, saying they are under a code red. I called the school and no one is answering," a father told a Seminole County dispatcher.

"I'm not showing anything going on in the area," the dispatcher responded. "Let me just double check."

A few seconds later, the dispatcher confirmed, "It was just a drill."

"OK, thank you. I was freaking out," a sobbing mother told dispatch after being told the same thing in another call.

Similar calls released by the Sheriff's Office show it took dispatchers a few beats before connecting the scheduled code red drill to the concerned calls from parents who had received messages from their high school students hiding in closets or under desks.

The Sheriff's Office released 33 911 calls made around the time of the drill from parents, students, family of teachers and nearby businesses.

Students didn't know it was a drill, and that was the point, dispatchers told parents.

"There’s a shooting at Lake Brantley," a female student who jumped a fence fleeing the high school told 911.

"OK, are you calling about the drill, or do you actually see something happening?" a dispatcher asked. The student was unsure because she heard "a bang" and "everyone just started running."

A parent who lives in the neighborhood near the high school described "hundreds of kids running through my neighborhood, running for their lives" in a call back to dispatch demanding answers for the unannounced drill.

School district officials said the school resource officer was the only person who knew the drill would take place. Parents were notified that it was a drill about an hour later.

After the code red drill caused panic among students, Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma announced a new protocol going forward.

Unannounced code red drills will still take place at Seminole County schools, but an announcement will be made at the beginning of the drill notifying students, staff and parents that there is no actual threat. Pre-planned code red drills will also still take place.

Check back for updates on this breaking news story.

About the Author: