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East County News Service

March 28, 2015 (Lemon Grove) – An after-school assistant at Lemon Grove Academy was arrested Wednesday after she began acting bizarrely and barricaded herself in a classroom along with several children from 1st through 7th grade.

The students became fearful of 31-year-old Linda Lira’s actions. One young student texted a friend’s mother and told her that Lira said there was a “devil spirit” in the classroom.  Another student used a campus walkie-talkie radio to call for help, alerting other teachers and staff. 

Staff fought with Lira to successfully gain access and were able to safely remove the children.

After the students were evacuated, Lira exhibited multiple signs and symptoms of narcotics or hallucinogen use, according to Lieutenant Christopher May with the San Diego Sheriff’s Department.

While struggling with other school staff, Lira removed her own clothing. When deputies arrived on scene, she had barricaded herself alone in the classroom, upending desks, throwing things throughout the room and undressing/redressing several times. She was taken into custody by Sheriff's Deputies and was initially transported to the hospital for evaluation.

The school employees and officials worked very closely and cooperatively with the Sheriff's Department to bring the incident to a peaceful resolution.

The next day, after a full day of interviews with student witnesses, 28 felony offenses were identified. Lira was booked at the Las Colinas Woman's Detention and Re-entry Facility on 14 counts of Child Endangerment and 14 counts of False Imprisonment.   She is due to be arraigned on March 30th; bail has been set at $2.1 million.

As parents arrived to pick-up their children following the incident, they were met by administrators who shared information and answered questions.

The Lemon Grove School District had school social workers and therapists on-hand to provide counseling for all of the students that may have been affected by this incident. The District indicates that it will continue to provide ongoing support for students and staff.

Lira was a new employee, who had been on the job and had passed a drug test when hired, CBS Channel 8 news reported.

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