Students at Miami Springs High spent about four hours Tuesday in lockdown as police tried to coax an armed man out of his home across the street from the school.
The standoff ended with police bringing the man, identified as William Deno, out in handcuffs at about the same time students were being dismissed on the other side of the school.
“It was nothing related to the school and the lockdown was used as a safety measure,” Miami-Dade County Public Schools Spokesman John Schuster said, adding the lockdown officially began at about 10:50 a.m. and lasted until 2:50 p.m.
Miami Springs police said Tuesday that they got a report around 10 a.m. from a home at 660 Quail Ave. about a man threatening someone with a handgun. When officers arrived, Deno, 23, was outside on the porch. Police say he then picked up a gun and went inside.
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Virginia Gardens Mayor Spencer Deno IV, who watched the drama unfold from a command center across the street, said it was his cousin who was inside.
"The patience and professionalism of the [Special Response Team] and the Miami Springs Police Department saved my cousin’s life today," Deno said. The mayor said his father, Spencer Deno III, went to the house in the morning to visit his nephew, who then pulled a gun on him. The mayor’s father left and reported the situation to police.
The mayor said his cousin has been “depressed and drinking a lot lately.”
The school, 751 Dove Ave. was placed on lockdown and officers blocked nearby streets. Parents began arriving at the school, concerned about their children.
Rafael Cano, whose son is in 10th grade, said he went to the school at about noon after he got a call from his wife that something was going on.
“I hurried over here,” he said as he sat in a parking lot a block from the school. “But the students are OK and the gun is not in the school. Now I am just waiting for him.”
Before 2:30 p.m., police told parents that there would be a “controlled dismissal” on the north side of the school, away from the the holed-up man. Parents quickly ran to their cars to get to their children.
With the help of Miami-Dade County’s Special Response team negotiators and K-9 officers, police took Deno into custody.
“He laid his gun down and they shot him in the stomach with some type of a bean bag, then arrested him," Mayor Spencer Deno IV said.
Once William Deno was on his way to jail, the school’s other entrance was opened and students poured out.
When the crisis began, students said they were told to stay in their fourth-period class, but were not told why.
“People were checking their phones and looking at the news,” said Steve Perry, 16, a freshman.
Freshman Dexter Calixte said he was in his biology class when he was told to stay put.
“We really didn’t know what was going on,” he said. “We just ended up doing extra work.”
Deno will be charged with aggravated assault with a firearm. This is not his first run-in with the law. In 2010, he was charged with marijuana possession and fleeing and eluding a police officer. The charges were dropped after he completed a program for first time offenders.
El Nuevo Herald photographer C.M. Guerrero and Theo Karantsalis contributed to this report.