A Fort Lauderdale man was arrested Wednesday after he “intentionally terrorized” a class of elementary school children and a teacher "in a heightened state of fear" after the Sandy Hook shooting, according to Judge John "Jay" Hurley.
David Burch, 28, was ordered held without bond Thursday, the morning after the principal at Bayview Elementary School called to report a man screaming at children playing outside.
According to the police report, the seven- and eight-year-olds were participating in a P.E. class behind the Broward school, on a field shared with a local park.
Burch, who was wearing camouflage pants, caused a panic among the children when he approached an adjoining fence and reportedly began "screaming in a very aggressive manner" toward the class while jumping up and down. The instructor ordered the 22 students to run back into the school, at which point Burch allegedly ran toward an opening in the fence as if to follow.
The instructor then notified principal JoEllen Scott of the incident, and Scott contacted authorities. Police found Birch in a wooded area just south of the school.
The children were reportedly crying and shaken, attributed in part to the recent massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut.
Though Burch's public defender argued there was not probable cause for an arrest, Judge Hurley disagreed.
"The children and the teacher and the employee there, they were all in a heightened state of fear," the judge explained. "And the backdrop to this is obviously what had just happened in Connecticut, where all those children were killed. So these children were in a unique position of emotional vulnerability, which never really probably ended until people knew that this man was apprehended."
Birch was charged with disturbing the peace and held without bond, based on a prior arrest where he resisted arrest after unlawfully possessing of a concealed weapon.