Schools lock down due to armed fugitive
RIFLE – Area schools were placed on lockdown Wednesday during a search for a man believed to have shot a state patrolman.All Garfield Re-2 Schools were on lockdown and a modified lockdown was in place for Glenwood Springs schools in the Roaring Fork Re-1 District. The Grand Valley School District in Parachute instituted a “soft” lockdown, meaning exterior doors were locked but classroom doors were not.Officials at Roy Moore Elementary School in Silt locked exterior doors other than the front door at the start of the day, and kept students inside at recess. Similar measures applied in other Re-2 schools.”The only door we’re letting anybody in is the front door,” said Lisa Whitmore, principal of Roy Moore Elementary, where parents were being allowed in if officials recognized them.”We’ll take every precaution we need to make sure the kids are safe,” Whitmore said.A manhunt in western Garfield County began Tuesday night after the shooting of an officer just southwest of Silt. The suspect, Stephen Joseph Appl, shot himself at a checkpoint Wednesday evening, authorities say.The lockdown of the Glenwood schools was imposed because of their proximity to Interstate 70. Younger students were kept inside for recess, but those at the high school were allowed to leave the campus during the lunch hour, and the school was locked again following their return.Re-1 Superintendent Judy Haptonstall said police didn’t see a big danger to Glenwood schools, but the district decided to play it safe with the lockdown.”That was a pretty easy precaution to take,” she said.She said a planned field trip to the Colorado River by Glenwood Springs High School science students was canceled because of the manhunt.Based on further discussions with police Wednesday afternoon, Re-1 officials hadn’t planned to continue their lockdown today unless something changed to warrant it.Theresa Hamilton, spokesperson for Re-2, said police had recommended Wednesday’s lockdown in that district. She said all outside after-school activities Wednesday were moved inside, and any other after-school uses of school facilities for parent-teacher conferences, musical events and other activities were canceled. No school sport events had been scheduled for Wednesday.Re-2’s lockdown was to have continued today if Appl had remained at large and had still been thought to be in the area.Whitmore estimated that about 30 of Roy Moore Elementary’s 400 students were absent Wednesday, compared to about 10 or 12 on a normal day. She said some parents didn’t send their children to school Wednesday morning because of the manhunt, and others decided to pull students out of school.”We’re letting them be the judge of that. We feel like (students) are safe here but we’ll let them make that choice. … In a situation like this you just want the family to be with you.”Some Re-2 buses were unable to run their standard routes Wednesday morning because of roadblocks. Hamilton said the majority of affected students were able to get rides to school with parents, or the buses were able to reach them by another route.Some students have to walk a half mile or so to bus stops, and the district was asking parents to pick up these students at school or from their bus stops after school was out Wednesday, she said.While Re-2 employees were watching out for suspicious activity, no security officers were brought in to school buildings. A school resource officer who serves the district is based out of Rifle High School.The increased security measures in area schools come at a time of heightened awareness among schools in Colorado and other states due to recent shootings at schools, including in Bailey, Colo.Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, email@example.com
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