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Police remove girl from roof of Azalea Middle School

ST. PETERSBURG — She left a note with a classmate threatening to hurt herself. Then, the 11-year-old climbed on the roof of Azalea Middle School.

Rescue workers removed the girl in the green-hooded sweatshirt from the school's roof late Tuesday afternoon after nearly two hours of trying to talk her down.

She appeared to struggle as firefighters guided her into the bucket of a ladder truck about 5 p.m. She was placed in a police vehicle, where she screamed at the officers. They moved her into a paramedic's vehicle, where she was transported to a local mental health facility.

Police first received a call at 2:51 p.m. that occupied at least 14 officers for much of Tuesday afternoon. They roped off part of the school's parking lot in yellow caution tape and brought with them a paramedic, fearing the girl planned to take her life.

Police think the girl climbed on an awning to gain access to the roof above the middle school's one-story media center.

The school sent out calls to students' homes at 3:45 p.m. saying the 4:15 p.m. dismissal time would not change and families should not be alarmed by the heavy police presence. Nevertheless, students were released a short time later than usual.

Cathy Ripa, who identified herself as the girl's godmother, said the girl was confused and upset about problems at home.

Police said that, once on the ground, the girl told them she hadn't wanted to jump. She just wanted to be by herself.

Contact Lisa Gartner at lgartner@tampabay.com.

Police remove girl from roof of Azalea Middle School 02/19/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 9:22pm]
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