Issaquah

Issaquah custodian traumatized after being mistaken for gunman

Issaquah custodian traumatized after being mistaken for gunman
ISSAQUAH, Wash. -- What should have been a normal day at school turned into a traumatic nightmare for an Issaquah custodian when he was mistaken for a gunman and forced to face down armed police officers.

Allen Anderson said he's so overwhelmed by this week's frightening incident that he doesn't know when he'll get back to work. And even worse, it brought back terrifying memories of a real-life trauma from just two years ago.

Issaquah High School went into lockdown on Monday after someone called 911 to say they had seen someone walking into the school wearing a hunting jacket and carrying what looked to be a large gun.

"Our administrators put us into a lockdown and notified the surrounding schools so that they could also go into a lockdown, and that is part of our procedure," said Larraine Michelle with the Issaquah School District.

Anderson, who has been the school's custodian for more than 20 years, heard the lockdown on the school PA system. He immediately realized the description of the suspect was eerily familiar.

"I just came into the building five minutes ago wearing a camouflage coat, black backpack and carrying my umbrella like I always do," he said.

He said his umbrella was likely mistaken for a rifle. He let administrators know about the mistake and was told to walk to the front of the school.

"I realize that there are police officers laying prone on the ground with their rifles pointed at me," he said. "They told me to go ahead and put the radio down, which I did."

The whole time Anderson was flashing back to another incident, when a gunman was shot dead during a wild rampage at the same school during a football game.

Anderson said he's so traumatized that he hasn't been back to work.

"Of course any of us would feel awful, but, like I said, we have to take every call seriously," Michelle said. "This was a 911 call. Someone thought they saw something, so better safe than sorry."

Anderson doesn't fault the school for how it reacted to the 911 call, but he has some questions.

"I understand why they need to take things serious, but I don't understand why my employer put me out there in parking lot like that," he said.

Anderson said he's in the process of seeking counseling.