Photo by Diane Cox
A Wood River police officer drives through the school parking lot after it was determined that the school was able to go off lock-down and go into a “safe mode” or “modified lock-down.”
WOOD RIVER — The Wood River Police Department received a cellphone call from a concerned motorist traveling down Wood River avenue at 7:45 a.m. Monday. The woman driver witnessed a suspicious person near East Alton-Wood River High School, so she made the call.
“We got a phone call from a female passing by the school,” Wood River Deputy Chief Dan Bunt said. “She saw a white male in a black coat with a bandana over his face and his hands in his pockets. She thought he looked suspicious. We notified the school and checked the area. We had several cars in the area within a minute. We couldn’t locate anyone (that fit the suspicious person’s description). We walked through the school and we will have cars around the area throughout the day.”
EA-WR went on a hard lock-down to avoid any traffic into or out of the school or through the halls while police searched the buildings and surrounding area. EA-WR remains on a “modified lock-down,” allowing students to pass to their next classroom, but restricting access to the school at this time. Lewis and Clark elementary/Jr. High also went on a soft lock-down for precautionary reasons, but according to an automated call to parents from LCE Superintendent Patrick Anderson, the elementary and junior high is now operating on a normal schedule.
In an automated call to all EA-WR parents at 8:10 a.m., Superintendent John Pearson informed parents of the lock-down situation at the high school. Parents received a second call at 8:45 a.m. with an information update.
“The police feel comfortable allowing students to pass between classes,” Pearson said in the updated automated message. “We are going to allow students to pass for classes; however, we will remain in a modified lock-down or safe-mode with all exterior doors to the buildings locked, but will allow students time to cross the street for class on a normal schedule.”
Pearson said he felt it was in the best interests of students and staff to take the precautionary measures of going into lockdown to allow the WRPD to do their investigation.
The Roxana School District also was not allowing students to go outside Monday morning.
"Classes are continuing and there is no interruption to the daily schedule," states a posting on the district's website. "Wood River Police received a call this morning of an individual possibly armed walking on Wood River Avenue in the vicinity of the Wood River High School. There is no direct threat to our schools and we continue to take every precautionary measure to ensure the safety of our students and staff."
Officers from Roxana, East Alton and South Roxana responded for support to the WRPD.