Belfast Telegraph

Vigilant parents hailed after knifeman caught fleeing from Belfast's Sacred Heart Primary School

By Rebecca Black

Police have praised parents for their vigilance after a man tried to get into a primary school armed with a knife.

The man had been seen loitering around Sacred Heart Primary School in north Belfast at lunchtime on Friday when parents became concerned.

The PSNI was called in and when they found the man in the grounds of the Oldpark Avenue school he attempted to flee.

However, by this time school staff had locked the back gate to Harcourt Drive, preventing any escape. The officers tackled him as shocked parents picking up children aged from four to seven watched.

A spokesman for the PSNI in Tennent Street said: "He attempted to run away, but was detained by police and during a subsequent search of the man, a knife was discovered.

"Police are grateful for the vigilance of members of the local community who reported this male and his suspicious activity promptly to the police, allowing us to respond quickly, apprehend a potentially dangerous individual and in doing so, protect the local community."

One parent said: "The man had been wandering around the car park, and had apparently been in the grounds most of the morning. He was acting really oddly – lurching about.

"Maybe he was on drugs, maybe he had other problems, but there was obviously something not right with him."

Parents received a text message from the school letting them know what had happened.

"An incident occurred in school today, where an intruder attempted to gain access," it read. "The police were informed and there has been an arrest.

"Appropriate measures were taken to ensure that all children were kept safe."

After lessons ended, the school kept children inside the building unless a parent or guardian collected them.

"The school did the right thing by keeping the kids inside," said a parent.

"It's terrifying to think that someone was trying to get into a primary school with a knife."

The 34-year-old man was arrested for carrying an offensive weapon. After questioning, he was released on police bail pending further inquiries.

This is the second 'stranger danger' alert at Sacred Heart Primary. Parent were warned about a van driver in Rosapenna Street a few months ago after a child was approached.

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