Suspicious Man Leads to Orange Co. School Lockdown

By: Chris Stover Email
By: Chris Stover Email

April 23, 2014

A man who police say was snooping around an Orange County elementary school caused the entire school system to go on lockdown Wednesday.

The sheriff's office is still looking for that man to find out why he was on the grounds of Gordon-Barbour Elementary School.

"He had gone to a side door, tried to get in through the door," said Maj. Michael LaCasse, chief deputy of the sheriff's office.

The man, described as being between 40 and 50 and wearing a sweatshirt and jeans, got the attention of an employee at the school. The sheriff's office says he asked if the school's playground was affiliated with the church across the street.

That was the extent of the conversation, but it was enough for the employee to notify authorities.

"It's just his demeanor was concerning to the school employee, who passed it on," LaCasse said. "The school went into a Code Red lockdown."

A Code Red lockdown can mean anything within the Orange County school system that requires law enforcement intervention or investigation.

"We were just trying to keep a close eye on the school," LaCasse said. "Now, we're trying to identify who that person was, just so we can talk to him and find out why they were there."

Deputies arrived at the school within a minute of receiving the alert. By the time they got there, the man was gone. Deputies searched the surrounding neighborhood and had found nothing.

"Today's situation is somebody who shows up, they try to get into a school through an entryway that's not normally the front door, somebody whose questions are a little bit out of the ordinary," LaCasse said. "It's not necessarily going to be ill-intentioned, but I think it's definitely worth us looking into and getting to the bottom of."

There never appeared to be an immediate threat to anyone's safety. The lockdown was just a precaution.

"You do that in order to try to insulate the school and protect all the students and staff that are there," LaCasse said. "At the same time, it puts us in a series of responses that we do along with the school in an attempt to manage it."

The sheriff's office asks anyone with information to call 540-672-1200.

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