CINCINNATI – One man hit another while newly graduated kindergarten students were celebrating with punch and cookies, triggering a melee that involved up to 20 people and resulted in the lockdown of an elementary school in a Cincinnati suburb, authorities said Tuesday.
Mt. Healthy Schools Superintendent Lori Handler said the lockdown was ordered Monday because parents were panicking and school officials wanted to make sure no one else wandered into the fight scene. She said some 150 children were with their families in the Mt. Healthy North Elementary School cafeteria when the fight broke out over an apparent domestic dispute.
Other people began pushing and shoving in a mass near the cafeteria doors until several police cruisers arrived and officers began restoring order. Authorities said no one was injured badly.
"People never cease to amaze me," Handler said. "It was a beautiful ceremony, with grandparents, parents, the 5-year-olds ... then out of the blue, the man hit another man in the face. I was absolutely shocked."
Police were seeking Raymond Walker, 33, on charges of assault and inducing panic. No other arrests were made.
"The assault did induce panic during the assembly, causing several in attendance to be pushed," police stated in their report.
"It was horrible," parent Kim Calai told WCPO-TV. "I'm standing there, and all of a sudden, this rush of people throwing punches is coming at me."
She said her young son kept asking why the police came.
"To have something like that happen at a graduation is pretty pathetic," Calai said.
A telephone message left Tuesday at Walker's home was not immediately returned.
"We're going to prosecute to the fullest extent possible," Handler said. "We are sending a strong message that you cannot act that way around 5-year-old children."