Car thief causes school lock down

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

An Aurora man has been charged with tampering with a motor vehicle after an incident that resulted in a lock down at the Cassville School District on May 3.

Last Thursday, Barry County E-911 was notified that a man had stolen a vehicle from Monett and was headed toward Cassville. Lt. Danny Boyd said the Cassville Police Department positioned officers on the north side of the city to watch for the stolen vehicle.

According to a press release issued by the Barry County Sheriff's Department, Cassville officer John Cherney attempted to stop the black single cab Chevy Silverado pickup that was believed to have been stolen from Monett.

"The car spun out a little bit and took off into town," said Boyd.

Cherney decided to terminate his pursuit because the vehicle was headed into a residential area. He notified E-911 dispatchers and city and county officers were alerted to continue the search for the vehicle.

Detective Brian Landreth, of the Barry County Sheriff's Department, located the vehicle on 14th Street in a parking lot near the Cassville School campus. Landreth notified E-911 dispatchers that the vehicle was located and the suspect was on foot.

"Barry County E-911 called one of our building offices to inform us that law enforcement officials were looking for an individual near the school," said Richard Asbill, Cassville superintendent. "We were told that the person had possibly parked their vehicle in one of our parking lots.

"We decided that there was no point in having them come into our buildings, so we decided to go ahead and lock down," said Asbill. "After we were locked down, we put the general description of the individual out to maintenance, teachers and custodial staff."

School maintenance staff members Rick Morgan and Lennis Periman spotted the subject in the Rocky Edmondson Park, which is located east of the primary, intermediate and middle school campus. Law enforcement officials were notified and the subject was apprehended immediately.

Officers arrested Roy Allen McClenan, 42, of Aurora. He has been charged with tampering with a motor vehicle in the first degree and is being held in the Barry County Jail on a $75,000 cash or surety bond.

Asbill said that the district was on lock down for around an hour and a half. During this time, administrators used the school's text messaging system to notify parents about the lock down.

"We sent out the first message, which let parents know we had initiated a lock down, all students were safe and that police were searching for a suspect near the school, about 15 minutes after we locked down," said Asbill. "Then we sent another 45 to 50 minutes later and the last one 10 to 15 minutes after the suspect was in custody to let them know that the lock down was over."

Asbill said this is the first time the district has used the text messaging system to inform parents about an emergency situation.

"This shows that the text messaging system is as much for parents' use as it is for ours," said Asbill. "We use it for informational purposes only."

Parents interested in receiving text message alerts from the Cassville School District are encouraged to call their child's building office.

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