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Officials at St. Mary School in Riverside summoned police to the campus this morning after a wayward coyote found itself in the rear parking lot and, for a time, was seen scratching at the back door to the school.

Riverside police received a call from a school administrator just before 8:30 a.m. on Nov. 20, warning that a coyote was prowling around the parking area off East Burlington Street.

No children were outside the building at the time; school was already in session for the morning. But when police arrived, they saw children and teachers looking out the windows at the coyote, which was near the playground area in the back of the school, scratching at a door as if it were trying to get in.

Three police officers arrived on the scene and reported that the coyote turned around, showed its teeth and growled at them. That reaction prompted the officers to pull out their pistols, which they never pointed at the animal or the school building, according to Police Chief Tom Weitzel.

“The animal was extremely aggressive,” Weitzel said. “At times the coyote was running around the perimeter of the school near the entrance.”

Eventually, the coyote was able to squeeze between a fence and the school building and took off toward Herrick Road, Weitzel said. Officers attempted to track the animal, but weren’t able to find it.

There have been no other reports of a coyote in the area since the call from St. Mary School.

Weitzel said that Riverside police will continue to maintain a presence around the school today and will be present at dismissal time.