Buffalo, N.Y. (WBEN) - Buffalo police arrested Dwayne Ferguson, a well known anti violence advocate on Buffalo's East side, and charged him with having a handgun on school grounds, after his actions started an hours long lockdown at BPS 97, the Harvey Austin Elementary School on Sycamore Street Thursday.
On Friday, Buffalo Police Chief of Public Schools Kevin Brinkworth said he believes Ferguson had no ill intent, but did say that there were opportunities for Ferguson to come forward and explain he was carrying a weapon while the school was in lockdown. Police found the weapon on Ferguson while searching everyone in the school before transporting them to School 91.
Ferguson is the President of the Buffalo chapter of MADD Dads, and on the National Board of Directors for the anti violence coalition that works with kids in the inner city. He was working in the school's afterschool program, according to School Superintendent Pamela Brown.
"We did follow protocol for the situation that arose," said Buffalo Schools Superintendent Pamela Brown. "As a parent myself, I can certainly empathize with the feelings about what was going on yesterday. Our first priority was to make sure that the students and the individuals in that school were safe and secure, and once there was an opportunity to contact parents, that did occur." Brown said that telephone calls were made to parents alerting them of the situation, but as calls were being made it was found that some contact information was out of date. On Thursday, parents could be seen outside of the Harvey Austin School being told by Police that they would have to pick up their children at School 91, leaving some parents searching for a way to get there.
Brown said that Student Support and Crisis Management Teams were present in the School on Friday, and police will increase their watch and maintain a vigilant presence at the school for the remainder of the week.
"We can prepare, we can train, we can do drills, however these are fluid situations. I believe we handled the situation to the best of our abilities yesterday," said Brinkworth. "As you can see, we had a positive outcome, there were no injuries to anyone and the kids werre secure and were returned to their parents."
Students were bused to School 91 to be picked up by parents, and some roadways and intersections nearby the school were blocked for several hours Thursday. Staff began placing calls to all parent homes in order to inform them. Once the building was cleared of all individuals, the police teams searched the entire building and declared it safe.
Ferguson has pleaded not guilty to charges of weapons possession, including having a loaded weapon on school grounds.
Ferguson has been released on his own recognizance. The leader of Mad Dads must turn in all weapons and stay away from the school until the matter is resolved.