School in Mandeville put on lockdown, woman arrested

Photo of suspect Melinda Martin provided by Mandeville Police Department

MANDEVILLE, LA — The Mandeville Police Department says a woman was arrested and booked following an incident at the Mary Queen of Peace Church and Catholic School at 1501 West Causeway Approach.

It happened at about 2:20 this afternoon.  According to police, the department received a 911 call reporting that a woman was destroying the sanctuary.  They say they located the woman on the campus of the MQP school, near the church.

She’s identified as 51-year-old Melinda Martin of Pineland Drive in Mandeville.  Police say she was suffering from a possible mental or drug related episode.

The school sent electronic notices to parents to inform them about the incident.  The school’s principal says that church workers informed the school about the situation in the sanctuary, and the decision was made to put the school on lockdown.

According to the school’s principal, the woman pulled the fire alarm inside the church.  A coach at the school heard the alarm and rushed from the school to the church, but a gate did not lock behind him.  The woman was able to enter the gate and then a side door at the school.  The coach was able to escort her away and to police officers.

The school’s principal says that the lockdown procedure worked well and a spring will be installed on the gate so it will automatically close and lock.

MPD booked the woman with felony criminal damage.  Police say that initial estimates place the damage to the church at more than $5,000.  Martin was taken to an area hospital for evaluation.  Once she’s released, police say she will be booked into the Saint Tammany Parish Jail.

Nobody was hurt during the incident.  The school’s principal is asking parents to let their children know that they are safe at school.

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