Monday night was noisier than usual for residents living near Bess T. Shepherd Elementary School after a prayer could be heard blasting over the school's intercom for roughly 45 minutes.
A video of the incident went viral on social media. Posted by a user on the Reddit website, the video showed two minutes of footage in which an unknown speaker prayed over the intercom.
The person who posted the video was watching TV at home and was interrupted by the loudspeaker.
"This went on for 45 minutes," the video caption said.
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The woman on the loudspeaker could be heard repeatedly saying, "We need you in this school, God. We need you in every school, God." The speaker also prayed over staff members and spoke of casting the things of hell "back to the abyss."
"You cannot rule in this school," the speaker said in the recording. "You cannot rule in the hearts and minds of the children."
District officials confirmed the incident occurred around 6 p.m. Monday and said they were not aware of it until Thursday morning.
"There were staff members inside the building praying who were unaware the external intercom system was enabled," district spokesperson Steve Doremus said in an email. "As soon as they were made aware, the intercoms were turned off. No students were present during the time this occurred. Those who were present at the gathering were there voluntarily, and while the intercom being on was unfortunate, nothing prevents adults from gathering in this way."
Doremus said the district is continuing to investigate the matter.
Contact Carmen Nesbitt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6327. Follow her on Twitter @carmen_nesbitt.