Police pursuit leads to morning lockdown of Greenville Public Schools

By Cory Smith • Last Updated 9:44 am on Thursday, May 15, 2014

GREENVILLE — An armed man who fled into the woods near the Greenville high school and middle school buildings this morning was apprehended after the ensuing chase led to a morning lockdown of Greenville Public Schools.

The pursuit of a man, who fled a bail bondsman from a Budget Bail Bonds Agency and was wanted for unknown charges, began at approximately 4 a.m. and concluded when he was apprehended at approximately 7:25 a.m.

According to Sgt. Chris Fraye of the Michigan State Police Lakeview Post, police were contacted by the bonds agency to assist in locating the subject.

“They were looking for somebody on one of their bonds and asked for assistance in locating him,” he said.

Fraye said the department assisted in the search and the suspect was eventually taken into custody by the bail bondsman.

Fraye said the suspect was not arrested by law enforcement and the situation is being handled by the bail bond agency.

No further information was available from the Budget Bail Bonds Agency, which declined to comment.

The investigation led to a lockdown of Greenville Public Schools after Superintendent Pete Haines received a call from the Michigan State Police Lakeview Post shortly after 4 a.m.

“They were calling to let me know they were involved in an active search for an armed suspect,” he said. “The search was near our Central Services Complex … in the woods.”

The Central Services Complex, at 1414 Chase St., also houses the district’s school buses.

Haines said after contacting Todd Oatley, the high school assistant principal and security liaison, a decision was made to place the district into “code red” status, effectively locking down the buildings throughout the district.

“There was nobody here at that point,” Haines said. “Our bus dispatch director was just arriving and she was locked down in her office.”

Haines said a decision was made to issue a two-hour delay for the district as state police troopers searched for the suspect.

“We did not want students leaving their homes and waiting at bus stops,” he said.

According to Haines, at approximately 7 a.m., he received a call from state police informing him that the search for the suspect had been suspended.

“This person at that point had made no threats and was not a suspect for any violent crime, therefore they were suspending their active search because they saw no reason to escalate their situation, though he had not been apprehended,” Haines said.

Haines said he was not yet comfortable that the district was “completely secure,” so the security level was raised to “code yellow,” in which all of the school district’s doors are monitored by school administrators.

Haines said he was waiting until 7:30 a.m. to make a decision on whether to close school for the day when he received another phone call at 7:25 a.m.

“It was at about 7:25 a.m. that we got the call that the suspect had been apprehended,” he said. “Law enforcement was searching our area extensively, including the busses. We had some concerns that if this person was seeking shelter in the rain, one of the easiest places to go was one of the buses.”

Haines said school will resume as scheduled with the two-hour delay, and students will be released today without any further schedule changes.

“There’s no risk at this point,” he said. “We were able to dispatch our busses on a two-hour delay schedule. The rest of the day should be as planned.”

Gary Valentine, who operates School-Com608 as a security consultant for the district, said officials handled the lockdown situation very well.

“The measures that we’ve put in place as far as lockdown procedures, school officials did what they were supposed to do today,” he said. “You have to be able to make decisions on the fly. That’s what the superintendent did, based on the information they had at the time. Everyone followed the protocols that we’ve established.”

Valentine said the main priority was to keep students safe and away from bus stops, hence the enforcement of a two-hour delay.

“That two-hour delay gave law enforcement an opportunity to resolve the situation without putting the kids in danger, as well as give the kids a normal school day.”

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