Nassau County

‘You can just breathe now’: Callahan parents relieved after McDowell capture

NASSAU COUNTY, Fla. — It was a scary few hours for students and teachers at Callahan Intermediate School, which sits a couple hundred yards away from the ball park Patrick McDowell was hiding in and later captured.

“He terrorized the whole county, the whole town,” Callahan Intermediate School parent Ann Colson said.

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The final moments leading up to McDowell’s capture put Callahan Intermediate School on full lockdown on Tuesday.

It also put local parents on edge.

“He was right there,” Colson said.

The scene of the final arrest is right next to the school.

Colson’s son is in fourth grade. She said he told her he was instructed to hide in a closet with fellow classmates.

“He explained to me that ‘my teacher said we were in a little bit of a dangerous situation but we were going to be safe in the closet with her. We just needed to listen and follow directions,’” Colson said.

She said he told her he wasn’t scared, and she knows she has his teacher to thank for that.

“Because she was calm, the energy she passed on to the kids kept them calm,” Colson said.

The same goes for Brittany Nettles, whose daughter is in third grade.

“Thank you so much for making her feel safe and secure, and doing everything in your power to just protect all of the kids,” Nettles said.

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Nettles said she can sleep again at night knowing the town is safe, and in turn, her daughter is too.

“You can just breathe now. I think everybody can agree to that, we can just breathe now,” Nettles said.

On social media, the community is thanking teachers and staff at the school.

Callahan Intermediate PTO Treasurer Christy Rooney said in a statement:

“The admin and staff of Callahan Intermediate has been exemplary over the past several school days, during the search and capture of McDowell, while being in the search zone and on modified lockdown. To a fault, all parents I personally have heard from commend the school with its professional and caring handling of the situation and noted how safe their children felt, even during the hard lockdown. In appreciation, our CIS Mighty Warrior PTO is partnering with Indulge Food Truck to treat the CIS staff to lunch on Tuesday. If anyone wants to chip in, as a special thank you to the staff, for this lunch, donations can be made directly to Indulge Food Truck.”

Parents also sent their thoughts to Deputy Moyers’ family.

“My family, along with many others, are praying for the Moyers family and we will continue to support them as they endure the next few weeks. We are eternally grateful for the ultimate sacrifice that Deputy Josh Moyers made, and he is and forever will be a hero to our community,” Nettles said.