Long Beach police continue to investigate death of man who entered school campus with sledgehammer

Sid Garcia Image
Friday, September 22, 2023
Man dead after confrontation at Long Beach elementary school
A man is dead after he climbed a fence at a Long Beach school while carrying a sledgehammer and was confronted by some adults, police say.

LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- Police are continuing to investigate an incident in which a man died after he climbed the fence of a Long Beach school and was confronted by some adults on campus.

On Tuesday, witnesses told officers that the man had climbed one fence to enter the school parking lot while carrying a sledgehammer.

He then attempted to climb a second fence to get onto the main campus when "he was pulled down and detained" by a group of men, police said.

"Through further review, detectives believe the decedent was involved in a physical altercation prior to his death," police said in a statement on Wednesday.

The mother of a 4th grade student at the school spoke with Eyewitness News on Wednesday and shared details of the harrowing scene.

"Yeah, it was definitely scary," said the mother, who wished to remain anonymous. "My main concern was my daughter and the other kids. It was scary. It was a scary moment."

It's not clear exactly how the man died. Police also didn't specify if the men involved in the confrontation were school staff members, security personnel or parents.

A large law enforcement presence was gathered at the school Tuesday evening, collecting evidence and speaking to potential witnesses.

The school sent out a note to parents indicating the campus was locked down by law enforcement for what was described as a "medical emergency," and that the "campus is safe and secure."

Another mother told ABC7 she arrived at the school at 3:10 p.m. Tuesday to pick her daughter and saw the commotion unfold.

"They gave us directions to where to pick up the kids. They informed us there was a precautionary lock down for something in the neighborhood. They didn't give us too much detail," she said.

Another incident was reported at the same school last week, when a man was arrested after allegedly pointing a gun at a student. It's not clear if the two incidents are related.

Meanwhile, parents shared their concerns about a tunnel underneath the 91 Freeway that's about a block away from the school. They said a homeless encampment was cleared out on Monday, one day before yesterday's incident.

The parents said they raised those concerns to police and the school about the people who live in the encampment.

"My daughter has called the Long Beach Police Department quite a few times to report it," said one grandmother. "There's all kinds of pit bull dogs in there, there's people dong meth and other kind of drugs so the other neighbors are very concerned about it. They just cleared it out on Monday and then by coincidence, the next day, this guy with a sledgehammer."

CORRECTION: This story was updated to clarify information about a meeting that was planned at the school. Thursday's back-to-school night event that had been planned prior to this incident was canceled.