8 p.m. UPDATE: Officers were able to enter the suspect's home with a remote controlled robot and found the suspect dead from what seems to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. An autopsy will be conducted to find out exact cause of death.
SUFFOLK -- Students at Elephant's Fork Elementary School were secretly evacuated Monday afternoon due to a nearby barricade situation.
State Police spokeswoman Sgt.Michelle Anaya told 13News Now that officers were serving a warrant on an arson suspect in the 2200 block of William Reid Drive when he barricaded himself in his house.
Police initially put the school on lockdown and blocked the entrance. School officials said the children were safe and would remain in their classroom until police gave clearance.
The school's principal sent a recorded message to parents via the school's alert system.
Then, around 1 p.m., nearly 600 kids were secretly evacuated by school personnel and police officers. Plywood was laid over the ditches to get the kids safely through the woods and onto waiting buses.
'Due to the close proximity of the school, Virginia State Police and Suffolk Police Department chose to evacuate the school for the safety and security of the students, facility, and staff before extracting the suspect out of his residence,' State Police spokeswoman Sgt. Michelle Anaya said.
A letter was sent to parents from the principal Monday afternoon and said in part, 'About 12:45 p.m., police arranged for all students and staff to be evacuated from the building by bus from the back of the school to the Route 58 ramp leading onto Route 10, and taken to King's Fork High School. We were not able to notify parents of this evacuation until all Elephant's Fork buses arrived safely at the high school because police asked us not to compromise security.'
Suffolk Public Schools Chief Operating Officer Kevin Alston told 13News Now, 'It was surreal, but we knew that we had to evacuate the kids in a form where the suspect did not see the children.'
Some students told 13News Now they were scared by the incident.
'I knew it wasn't a drill. I knew it was very serious. And I didn't know what was going on so I was very freaked out and so shocked that we were in there for so long,' Makayla Boykins said.
Some parents told 13News Now they were relieved once they were united with their children.
'It's not a good feeling knowing that your babies are in there and you can't get to them. And they've been saying online that there's been this dangerous person living across from the school the whole time. It's pretty scary,' Stacey Holt said.
Police tell 13News Now tactical teams remain in place and the suspect is still inside his home.