ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Police are investigating after an stolen Kia SUV was driven “recklessly at high speeds” over sidewalks and lawns at Franklin High School in Rochester Tuesday afternoon, just as students were being let out of school. The incident prompting an increased police presence with NYSP Wednesday afternoon.
Cell phone footage captured Tuesday from a student at Franklin High shows the chaotic scene unfolding. The Kia barrels through the courtyard, zigging and zagging, sending kids screaming and running away in fear.
“Terror. The reaction is terror and that’s the same thing that you’re hearing in the video as you’re watching kids run, as you’re watching narrate their own video,” says Chief of Communications at the Rochester City School District, Marisol Ramos-Lopez.
It was around 2:30 p.m. when Rochester Police responded to the campus after receiving several 911 calls about the incident, some of which claimed shots were fired from the car, others indicating someone had been hit; those claims found to be not true. Thankfully, no one was injured.
One witness to this scene included an RPD officer stationed at the school during dismissal as part of a previously-determined agreement between RPD and RCSD following a separate situation at the same campus earlier this year. The officer tried to stop the Kia, but the driver sped off, which initiated a short chase. However that quickly had to be re-evaluated.
“During that pursuit the vehicle began driving even more recklessly to where the pursuit was not safe. More information was learned about what had occurred at the school and at that point the supervisors ultimately canceled, or terminated, the pursuit to start working on other follow up factors,” Lt. Greg Bello says.
No evidence of shots fired were found, nor any indication anyone was hit or hurt by the SUV. While no suspect(s) have been identified, RPD says the issue is really rooted in Tik-Tok Kia and Hyundai theft challenges.
“We’re working to identify that person and apprehend that person, so I don’t want to get into the age of the person or people, that were in this car. But typically we’ve seen frequently, this is where I’m talking about with social media, things along those lines, frequently, with these stolen Kias and with these stolen Hyundais…predominantly we’re finding that it’s teenagers involved,” Lt. Bello adds.
“Our partnership with parents is key because the partnership with parents really deemed student success and we want parents to make sure they talk to their children. They know where the kids are going. They know who their kids are hanging out with this is also a community issue and we’re asking the community to get more involved when they see something we want them to reported to 911,” Ramos-Lopez says.
RCSD says the district is prepared to talk with students or staff facing emotional or mental impacts from this situation, or otherwise; teams of counselors are stationed in each school. District officials believe the widespread concern is one of urgent matter, explaining the district, itself, is the recipient of the behavior, as well.
“We’re experiencing issues with these cars are different levels. We have a situation that happened at Franklin yesterday we have had some vehicles that have been taken from some of our sites and so working with RPD to make sure that our stuff you on Kia’s and Hyundai’s get protections,” Ramos-Lopez says.
During school dismissal at Frankin High School Wednesday, RPD says officers and NYS Troopers observed a stolen Kia Sportage in the area of the school, confirmed to be a different car than the one used Tuesday driving over campus. According to RPD, officers and troopers were able to safely follow the vehicle away from the school, but the driver attempted “multiple evasive maneuvers to avoid law enforcement,” before stopping on Thomas Street. Four juveniles ran from the vehicle and police say they are now working to determine the identities of the juveniles involved.