Polk Schools to talk security in wake of stranger storming elementary school and attacking principal

Qvonda Birdsong was punched several times

LAKELAND - School leaders will look to see if any changes in policy need to be made after a stranger walked into a Lakeland elementary school and punched the principal several times.

Principal Qvonda Birdsong can still feel where the irate man attacked her in the office at Oscar J. Pope Elementary.

"Just a little soreness in the arm, but no bruises," she said. "I'm fine."

The man, who police identified as Elester Trudell, stormed the building through a door that's only open for teachers from 7:15 to 8 o'clock every morning.

Before the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, the school left it open all day. Now, after Monday's incident, it will stay locked for good.

"Who knows what would have happened had it been locked and he came to the front door. We don't know," said Greg Bondurant, Director of Safe Schools for Polk County.

He does not call the incident a security flaw, but says it does raise questions for other schools.

"I'm going to get with the principals at the next principals meeting and we're just going to sit down and have a roundtable discussion and say hey guys what can we do to make things better," he said.    

That meeting won't happen for at least a few weeks, and some parents think the conversation needs to happen sooner.

"Handle it right away. (Don't) wait until something else happens, then they're going to say we should have done more," said Elida Garcia, a grandmother of a student who attends Oscar Pope Elementary.

It's still unclear what Trudell's intentions were on Monday.

We do know he started acting out before he even got inside the school, where Anna Williams tried stopping him from cursing out a random child.

"He bowed up and chest bumped me and started screaming in my ear," she told ABC Action News.

As soon as he got away from them and the kids, Williams said she dialed 911.

Deputies were already en route to the school when they got a call saying Trudell had attacked the principal.

On Tuesday a judge ordered him to be held in the county jail on a $40,000 bond.

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