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Inglewood Elementary School staff tackle intruder: 'he was just wild'

Inglewood Elementary staff fend off intruder
Posted at 9:52 PM, May 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-24 23:11:54-04

As Katrina Thomas — a secretary at Inglewood Elementary School — walked down the first-grade hallway, she explained what she heard.

"When I get right here, I hear Miss Davis yelling 'he's trying to get in the building, he's trying to get in the building.'"

During a kindergarten recess at the East Nashville school on May 11, fears turned into reality: a man jumped the playground fence.

"So I was yelling at them 'y'all run, run, run' and by the time I turned around my co-worker Miss Shay was helping Miss Davis hold him down," Thomas said.

The staff later learned the man was Onreka Gray.

thumbnail_Onreka Rozzek Gray.jpg
After forcing his way into an Inglewood Elementary School, Onreka Gray faces charges including assault and trespassing.

Kindergarten teacher Rachel Davis tried to keep the man from entering the school until he forced his way through.

"I got a call from one of the teachers that were out on the playground, saying that a guy was on the playground that did not belong," said Shay Patton, a bookkeeper at the school.

The school immediately went into lockdown.

"And then Miss Davis — she jumped right on his neck from behind and she fell into that corner," said Patton.

Thomas then joined the take-down. Together, the three women restrained the intruder.

"But he was just wild," said Thomas. "You know he was just over the top, fighting, scuffling, trying to get away."

Katrina Thomas & Shay Patton
Katrina Thomas (left) and Shay Patton (right) stand in the spot where an intruder forced his way in the side door of Inglewood Elementary School.

"We didn't even think did he have a gun or a knife?" said Patton.

It was a fear made even more real Tuesday nearly 900 miles away in Uvalde, Texas, after a school shooting took the lives of children and at least one teacher.

"That's what we were afraid of him, him getting to some of these kids, some of our staff," said Patton. "You know we didn't want that."

The gravity of the Texas school shooting weighs heavily on the Inglewood Elementary School community. But in their own case, the women say it was instinct that turned their fears into action.

"I think in situations like that I mean you just don't think about putting your life on the line," said Thomas. "You just step in and do what you need to do."