Purdy schools impose 1-hour lockdown

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Disgruntled father's threat prompts response

The Purdy school district went into a precautionary lockdown on Tuesday following threats made by a parent dealing with a child custody issue.

Purdy Police Chief Jackie Lowe reported a parent approached him about a child's custody. Lowe said the father had no paperwork, so the chief advised him to go to Barry County Circuit Court in Cassville.

"He went to court [on Tuesday morning] and they told him to get an attorney," Lowe said. "He became angry, started making threats, and said he was 'going to get a gun and go get his son.'"

With that information, Lowe contacted the school. Superintendent Steven Chancellor ordered a lockdown at 10:15 a.m. without restricting student movement inside the building.

"This precautionary lock-down involved securing all exterior doors, and recess, physical education classes and all other outdoor activities were moved inside," said a statement posted on the school district's Facebook page. "Normal daily routines continued within the buildings."

Lowe called in his other officer, Russ Nichols, and reserve Jon Egleston. The Barry County Sheriff's Department, the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the Missouri Department of Conservation sent vehicles and officers to Purdy. Officers took position at the city park, just north of the school, while others looked for the subject's vehicle. The child lives just outside the city limits.

In the meantime, Lowe reported Barry County Sheriff Mick Epperly contacted the subject by phone. The father said he was in Springfield, Lowe said, possibly trying to secure an attorney. Epperly asked him to pull over and wait for an officer. A Highway Patrol trooper responded to the scene and took the subject in custody.

With that news, the school district lifted its lockdown at 11:15 a.m.

"There was never a threat to the school district," Chancellor said. "It is the top priority of the Purdy R-2 School District to provide a secure learning environment for all students and staff members."

Lowe indicated child custody issues occur more often than the general public might think.

"It doesn't go to this level that often," Lowe said. "When you have a threat of this caliber, you have to take it seriously."

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