RIVERSIDE, California -- A man who police say held hostage a 70-year-old first-grade teacher for nearly seven hours in a Southern California classroom before a SWAT team shot and killed him had suffered an emotional breakdown, according to his family.
But no more has been revealed about the motivation of 27-year-old Luvelle Kennon, the father who walked into his daughter's school in Riverside and barricaded himself and the teacher in a classroom Tuesday.
"He's not dangerous," Kennon's uncle Carl Jackson said before the standoff ended. "It's just a matter of getting in there and talking to him, because we can talk to him."
Jackson said Kennon had just suffered an "emotional breakdown," though he did not elaborate.
But authorities hadn't heard from the Castle View Elementary teacher for hours.
"We, of course, had been fearing for the hostage's life all day," Officer Ryan Railsback said, but the decision to hurl distracting flash-bang grenades and storm the classroom was made because "the fear for her safety was increasing."
The SWAT team shot Kennon, Railsback said. He was declared dead at a hospital hours later. It wasn't immediately known whether he had a weapon although he did bring a backpack onto campus, Railsback said.
The teacher was taken to a hospital for examination but had only minor injuries, Railsback said.
Family members and the school identified her as first-grade instructor Linda Montgomery, who had taught at the school for about 20 years.
"She's really good with kids," granddaughter Ariana Montgomery told KABC-TV. "She's really helpful and sweet."
The children were at lunch and were not in the classroom when Kennon strode onto campus without signing in at 11:15 a.m., said Justin Grayson, a spokesman for the Riverside Unified School District.
A substitute teacher tried to intervene before Kennon took her hostage, but Kennon punched him in the face, knocking him down and breaking his nose, Railsback said.
Students initially were kept inside their classrooms before being ordered to evacuate to a local park, walking down the street in a long line.
Madison Barber-Alvarez said she and her classmates were held in the room for two hours.
"I felt like that this is so terrifying. I thought this going to be my worst nightmare I've ever had," the 12-year-old said.
"We were praying that we're going to be OK," she said.
All were safely accounted for but school was canceled for the rest of the week, according to the district.
California school barricade ends with suspect dead
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