Dunwoody schools placed on lockdown after mental health patient leaves hospital

Parents concerned after hospital patient prompts lockdown at schools

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — Several schools across Dunwoody were placed on lockdown Friday after a mental health patient walked away from a hospital. He has since been located in Sandy Springs and the lockdowns were lifted.

Dunwoody police said that just before noon, officers responded to Peachford Hospital in reference to a patient who walked away from the hospital without being properly discharged.

The 29-year-old patient was admitted to the hospital a few days ago, after threatening to "shoot up" schools, police said.

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DeKalb Schools Police reported a level 1 lockdown at Peachtree Charter Middle School, Chestnut Elementary Charter School, Dunwoody Elementary School, Dunwoody High School and Vanderlyn Elementary School.

Eunen Cordova went to Peachtree Middle School in Dunwoody on Friday to pick up her sisters after their mother called with concern.

"I was at work, and she told me that I need to come down to see what's going on," Cordova said.

Jovanhy Guevara is a senior at Dunwoody High School.

"We were taking a test, and they made an announcement that the school was being level 2 locked down," Guevara said.

Around 2:30 p.m., Sandy Springs police found the man on Roswell Road and returned him to the care of his doctors.

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Peachford Hospital is a privately run facility, so we called its marketing department to ask about how it secures potentially dangerous patients.

It referred our questions to its corporate office, which provided the following statement:

"This afternoon a patient walked away unescorted from Peachford Hospital. Our staff contacted Police immediately. The patient was safely apprehended by Police within 90 minutes without incident. No one was harmed. Due to HIPAA privacy laws, we cannot disclose specific information about our patients' treatment or care.
 
We thank the Police for their swift assistance in locating and bringing the patient back to our facility safely. We thank the community for their patience as this issue was addressed. We have initiated a review of Hospital protocols to address how this incident occurred. 
 
Located in the Dunwoody neighborhood of Atlanta, Peachford Hospital features individual units for children, adolescents, adults and seniors, serving residents of Georgia and beyond. We offer inpatient acute care, as well as partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient programs."

Parent Maria Jimenez told Channel 2's Mike Petchenik she's also worried about how the man could just walk away like that.

"You're concerned?" Petchenik asked.

"Yeah, about security.  Everything," Jimenez said.

Police aren't releasing the man's name but say he's now back in the care of his doctors.