Police swarmed Price Middle School just south of downtown Thursday afternoon minutes after reports of the shooting. A crowd of anxious parents gathered in the streets, awaiting word on their children, and later many questioned why they were kept in the locked-down school for more than two hours before being dismissed.
Many parents outside the school complained that school officials didn't provide information quickly enough. Reed said the school system acted prudently to avoid relaying false information.
"I think the superintendent was more focused on being right than on being quick," he said.
Hours after the Atlanta shooting, several school buses loaded with children pulled away from the school and stopped in front of a church about a half-block away. Parents tried boarding the buses. Police, who initially tried to stop them, finally relented and screamed at the drivers, "Let them off!"
James Bolton was at work when his sister called saying a teen had been shot at his son's school and was in the crowd as parents began swarming the fleet of buses.
"Move, I see my son, I see mine!" he said, running up to embrace James Bolton Jr. "As long as I got this one back, I'm OK," he said, holding his son's head against his chest as parents nearby frantically searched for their children.
Bolton Jr. said he was in class when the intercom sounded and a school official announced the building was under immediate lockdown.
"They told us we had to be quiet," Bolton told The Associated Press. "They said something went on in the courtyard." Bolton said he was unaware that anyone had been shot until a reporter asked him about it.