Two School Lockdowns Within One Week

April 26, 2006
Reported By: Lee Peck

To fully understand why Barbe High School was temporarily placed on lockdown Wednesday, you need to know what happened Tuesday evening in the 600 block of Louie Street.

"Five suspects forced their way into a home. The resident, a woman, was home alone. They then forced their way into a safe stealing the guns inside before fleeing the scene," said Lake Charles Police Sergeant Mark Kraus.

Sgt. Kraus says before leaving the five suspects told the woman if she wanted the guns back she needed to place 500 dollars in a potato chip bag and leave it at the corner of Creole and Louie Street by 9 a.m. on Wednesday.

When they came to make the pickup, police were waiting -- arresting three suspects all packing stolen weapons. With several guns and two suspects still missing the hunt was on. Their search would lead them to two schools. First to S.J. Welsh where they arrested a male juvenile without incident. Then to Barbe, where a second male juvenile was not giving up without a fight.

"The student was brought to the school's office. When he saw the officers her tried to run away and punched one of officers in the chest before running across the street to a nearby cemetery," said Kraus.

The possibility the student could have a gun, forced Barbe High School into lockdown mode while officers chased down their suspect. "A chase ensued off campus and then back on campus, where he was apprehended and placed under arrest," said Kraus.

The lockdown at Barbe and another one last week at Sulphur High School are examples of how Calcasieu Parish Schools are exercising extreme caution following the bloody massacre at Virginia Tech.

"There may be nothing to a lot of these incidents, but we're acting out of precaution because you never know when one of them might be serious," said Assistant Calcasieu Parish School Superintendent Leo Miller. "We've told all of our faculty and administrators to be aware of anything out of the ordinary."

With less than a month before summer break, Calcasieu schools will likely remain on heightened alert -- fully reassessing their emergency plans before next school year.

Police say neither of the two students arrested on campus were carrying guns. At this time, investigators have recovered four stolen rifles and two handguns, but believe there may be more guns still missing.

All three suspects arrested at Creole and Louie street have been charged with armed robbery and extortion. The S.J. Welsh student faces an armed robbery charge, while the Barbe student faces the same, plus charges of resisting arrest and assaulting an officer.

Meanwhile Calcasieu schools are not the only ones exercising a side of precaution. Schools in Cameron Parish have also stepped up security. Cameron Parish School Superintendent Doug Chance says he has met personally with all of his school administrators and advised them to be on heightened alert. He says aside from taking every possible threat serious his staff performed a mock lockdown the day after the Virginia Tech tragedy.

"We went through the process of how would we manage this, how would we handle that. At every school and our administrative staff, along with some leadership and faculty. Everyone has just been placed on high alert," said Superintendent Chance.

Superintendent Chance says all schools are now more secure, locking doors and making all campus visitors identify themselves.