Glenwood High School homecoming threat leaves students in lockout till 1 a.m.
Glenwood Springs High School was put on lockout during the homecoming dance late Saturday night and into early Sunday, when an altercation outside the dance left police concerned for student safety.
Glenwood Springs Police Chief Terry Wilson said Sunday morning that an 18-year-old male showed up to the dance and tried to grab a female who was headed to the dance. The incident occurred somewhere outside the high school venue.
Wilson indicated that, according to incident reports, the suspect was being “robust” and at one point he tried to grab her by the arm and pull her into his car.
Glenwood Springs High School Principal Paul Freeman and Roaring Fork School District officials later clarified that the individual never entered the building.
Wilson said that, according to witness accounts, the suspect made statements or gestures that led police to believe that he had a firearm in his backpack. Police concluded that there was a threat in the area, and, although the suspect had left the school grounds by the time officers arrived, police established a perimeter and called in an all-hazards team to respond after placing the school in lockout.
A lockout means no one is allowed in or out of the building, except authorized officials.
The suspect “apparently had communications with our officers that he might start shooting, and we took it seriously,” Wilson said.
Students who were at the dance ultimately were directed to go to the high school auditorium to watch a movie while police handled the situation.
After the school was secured, police started looking for the individual, Wilson said, and an officer ended up making contact with him across the street at the 1300 block of Pitkin Avenue and placing him in custody.
Officers did not locate a firearm on the suspect, but arrested Cesar Esau Membreno, 18, on charges of misdemeanor police obstruction. He taken to the Garfield County Jail, where he remained Sunday night on $250 bond. A police investigation continues, Wilson said.
The lockout was lifted a little after 1 a.m., and students were released, many to parents who had been waiting outside in vehicles during the entire time.
During and after the incident, questions were raised by some parents about the timeliness of communication coming from school officials about student safety and the nature of the incident. The Roaring Fork School District issued the following statement Sunday morning:
“Last night, Glenwood Springs High School (GSHS) was placed on a lockout during the homecoming dance due to a potential threat in the area. The potential threat was never on campus. The lockout was initiated by the Glenwood Springs Police Department to control access to the campus and keep everyone on-site safe.
“The safety of our students and staff is always our top priority, and school leaders worked closely with law enforcement last night to ensure students were safe,” according to the statement.
“GSHS leaders were unable to communicate with parents via Infinite Campus messenger because there are system restrictions in place for communicating outside of pre-set hours. Leaders shared information via the school’s Facebook page to update parents on the situation. We are looking into removing all technical barriers so that we can effectively communicate with families at all times.”
Glenwood Springs High School officials began posting on the school Facebook page about the incident a little before midnight, well after the dance ended at 11 p.m.
The school posted at 11:46 p.m. Saturday: “GSHS is on [lockout] on the instructions of the police because of an incident in the vicinity of the school. Everyone is safe but we have been instructed to neither allow anyone in or out for the moment. Students will be released from the homecoming dance when the police give permission.”
The Glenwood Springs Police Department later posted to its Facebook page around 1 a.m.:
“If your children are attending the Glenwood Springs High School homecoming dance please be aware that they are on a lockout, no one is to enter or leave the school. All students are safe inside the school. Police Officers are in the area investigating an incident and we will notify the students when they are free to leave. If you are coming to pick your children up, please stage in the parking lot of City Market.”
(Editor’s note: This story has been edited from the original version to include the name of the suspect, who is now facing felony menacing charges and is being held on $15,000 bond.)
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