Man arrested after being found inside high school

Derie Mohamed

TOWN OF TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) – A man found wandering around Kenmore West High School Tuesday afternoon made a disjointed reference to “Sandy Hook” and said he “wasn’t a terrorist” while being questioned by police.

Authorities say several students and a teacher observed 36-year-old Derie O. Mohamed of the City of Tonawanda inside the school. He was wearing a trench coat and acting oddly. Within three minutes, the school resource officer escorted Mohamed out of the building.

Town of Tonawanda Police responded to the scene and took Mohamed into custody without incident. They found he had not signed in as a visitor and had no legal right to be on the premises. While interviewing him, officers say Mohamed made a disjointed reference to “Sandy Hook” and that he “wasn’t a terrorist.” He also told police he had recently visited Somalia.

The statements prompted police to contact the FBI, and Mohamed was questioned by agents.

News 4 has learned Mohamed attended Kenmore West in the early 90s. He was born in the United Arab Emirates but later became a U.S. citizen. Police say he was not armed and cooperated with authorities.

Parents who have students that attend Kenmore West are angry at the way the situation was handled. Tom Thur says he learned from a news report, not the school, that this incident took place.

“They can call us when school is canceled, send out a mass text when school is canceled, I just believe something should have been done,” he argued.

Around 25 minutes after News 4 spoke with Thur, he received an automated call from the district saying a man was found trespassing at the high school on Tuesday, and that the man is on the FBI’s most wanted list.

But Town of Tonawanda Police say that is not the case. Mohamed is not on the FBI’s most wanted list or a watch list.

Now parents want to know how he was able to enter the building and what he was doing there.

Nancy Horbach questioned, “Why are you coming back into your school that you went to? There’s got to be a reason why and that makes you more scared.

Town of Tonawanda Police Capt. Joseph Carosi theorized, “This was one of the busiest parts of the day when this occurred. There were a lot of students leaving. Sometimes the students forget something and they run back and the door is open. This guy kind of blended in and just kind of walked in.”

However, police say they do not know the reason Mohamed was at the school.

He is currently being held at the Erie County Holding Center on charges of third degree criminal trespass. He is due back in court next week and is scheduled to undergo a psychological evaluation.

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