Mike Fincher, the public safety director for Calhoun County Schools, said the elementary school was on a “modified” 20-minute lockdown, but that heightened state of security has since been lifted.
“We received a phone call from the Sheriff's Office that an individual they were looking for was in the woods in the White Plains area, but they believed that he was headed in an opposite direction from the school,” Fincher explained. “But at the time, they weren’t positive, so we took a proactive stance just to be cautious.”
Officials lifted the lockdown about 20 minutes after it began, because they received a second call from the Sheriff’s Office that indicated the suspect was no longer near the school.
Fincher could not identify the suspect Calhoun County deputies were looking for and did not know what the suspect was accused of.
Fincher said he did not ask and was not told what the suspect was charged with. It's irrelevant, he said, because school protocol for a "soft lockdown" is the same no matter the scenario.
Attempts to reach Sheriff Larry Amerson and Chief Deputy Matthew Wade were unsuccessful. Sgt. Jon Garlick directed questions about the case to Fincher.
Soft lockdown means that playground activity is banned, school doors are locked and personnel not directly involved with students are asked to have a heightened sense of awareness. Teachers continued with their normal lesson plans in the classroom throughout the lockdown, Fincher said.
Contact Star Staff Writer Cameron Steele at 256-235-3562.
Star Staff Writer Laura Johnson contributed reporting.