NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV/Gray News) – Several school employees are recovering from injuries after working together to hold down a man who forced his way into an elementary school in Nashville, Tennessee.
Kindergarten teacher Rachel Davis told WSMV her students were going inside from recess when Onreka Gray jumped over the fence and ran toward them.
“I was trying to explain to him, ‘Sir, you cannot come in this door. This is not the front door. You’re not allowed in this building.’ And eventually, he wanted to get in so bad that he was lunging towards the kids,” Davis said, explaining she tried to block him from getting inside while she was yelling for help. “We struggled for a while, and he made it inside the building.”
Davis said the next thing she knew – she was tackling Gray.
“These children feel like my children and just that strong desire that I was going to do anything I could do to make sure they were safe,” Davis explained. “We both fell backward, and he fell on top of me.”
The teacher said it eventually took her and two others to push Gray into the corner and restrain him from going down the hallway.
Inglewood Elementary School’s bookkeeper Shay Patton and secretary Nikki Thomas helped hold Gray down in the hallway for 10 minutes while waiting for the police.
“I got him in a headlock, put his arm behind his back, and put my legs across him so he wouldn’t get free,” Thomas said.
All three were hurt while keeping Gray away from students, but Patton said the situation could have been much worse.
“We didn’t even think about weapons. He could have had anything. I didn’t even think about that until hours later,” Patton said. “I don’t know what he was trying to do, but I’m grateful that he barely got into the door and that was it.”
“We are stronger together,” Thomas said. “I’m thankful for the procedure in place for lockdown. Everybody acted immediately, and that also kept the kids safe.”