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Potential threat prompts extra security measures at Grand Rapids schools
[January 04, 2013]

Potential threat prompts extra security measures at Grand Rapids schools

Jan 04, 2013 (Duluth News Tribune - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- The Grand Rapids School District limited access to its buildings this morning after cell phone calls from an apparently suicidal man were traced to near two schools.

Law enforcement officers found the man at his home approximately a mile from Robert J. Elkington Middle School and placed him into protective custody shortly before 8 a.m. He was transported to an area hospital.

"At no time was the individual ever in one of our school buildings," Superintendent Joe Silko said shortly after 9 a.m. "At no time were any students in danger, and our schools are now running as usual, and we are back in business." The man called a crisis center, making threats of harming himself. Police were notified of the situation about 6:30 a.m. Officers learned that he may have been armed with a gun.

Authorities pinged the man's cell phone. That indicated that the man may have been near the middle school, then later near Southwest Elementary School, then back in the area of the middle school, Silko said.

Officers from the Grand Rapids Police Department and Itasca County Sheriff's Office responded to the area. As a precaution, the district limited access to its buildings and restricted drop-off and delivery of students "until we could ensure that all our sites were indeed safe," Silko said.

At Elkington and Southwest schools, the district did not allow parents to drop off children, while bused students were kept on buses in a staging area. The district's other buildings in town went into a soft lockdown, in which students and staff were allowed into the buildings and told to go to their first-hour areas.

"It was a situation where we acted in a precautionary manner because of the proximity to the schools and not knowing exactly where this individual was located," Grand Rapids Police Chief Jim Denny said. "It took us some time to track down where he was." Officers found the man at his residence about 7:50 a.m., Denny said. He surrendered without incident. He wasn't armed, but officers found a gun inside his house.

Denny didn't know immediately if law enforcement has had past contacts with the man.

"I don't anticipate there being any charges" from today's incident, he said. "I think this was a call for help on the individual's part, reaching out to other people who contacted us." ___ (c)2013 the Duluth News Tribune (Duluth, Minn.) Visit the Duluth News Tribune (Duluth, Minn.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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