CORONA DEL MAR — Four Corona del Mar schools were briefly locked down Thursday as Newport Beach police searched the area for an estranged husband accused of hitting his wife.
For more than an hour, kids and faculty from Lincoln Elementary School, Harbor Day School, Pacific Shores Day School and Newport Center United Methodist Preschool were kept in their classrooms until police cleared the area without finding their man.
The suspect, 47-year-old Mark Ward from Nevada, did not pose a danger to the kids, police said.
Newport-Mesa Unified School District officials said Lincoln Elementary was shut down as a precautionary measure.
Police said they received a call about 1:20 p.m. that Ward had just attacked his estranged wife in her apartment in the 2600 block of San Joaquin Hills Road, across the street from Lincoln Elementary.
He choked her until a neighbor came into the apartment after hearing the victim's screams, said Sgt. Steve Burdette. Ward ran out the backdoor when the neighbor told him she was calling police, Burdette said.
Ward was last seen wearing a sleeveless white shirt and gray shorts. His wife was treated at Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian and released.
Lincoln Elementary administrators notified parents through e-mail within about a half hour of the incident and released students to their parents at the end of the school day at 2:55 p.m.