Metro-East News

Belleville school briefly on lockdown; man taken into police custody

Central Junior High in Belleville
Central Junior High in Belleville

Authorities put a Belleville school on lockdown Monday afternoon after a man was seen peeking into the windows, according to school officials.

The man was first seen crossing the property at Westhaven Elementary and then at Central Junior High, according to Superintendent Matt Klosterman.

“The individual was acting suspiciously," Klosterman said. "He was up at the school building looking in the windows."

Master Sgt. Todd Keilbach confirmed that the 28-year-old man, who was described as wearing a stocking cap and black hooded sweatshirt, was taken into custody and charged with criminal trespass to school property and disorderly conduct.

His name was not immediately released by police.

While the building is secured with locked entrances, Klosterman said the school was put on lockdown anyway because they were unsure of the person’s intent.

A school lockdown is a precautionary measure issued in response to a direct or nearby threat. It requires staff and students to respond quickly and comply with rules. Here’s how it often works.

Lockdown means that the teachers each secure and lock their individual classrooms and students do not move about the building.

Klosterman said the Belleville Police Department responded quickly.

“He was still on the property when the police got there, in the playground area,” Klosterman said. “Apparently he was cooperative with the police, who took him into custody.”

No students or staff members were outside while the man was present, and he had no contact with any students, Klosterman said.

“The administrator tried to get an idea of who he was, but there was no coherent communication,” Klosterman said.

Klosterman said all the staff followed their safety procedures. Keilbach said Westhaven also brought students inside and locked doors during the incident.

“Everyone was safe at all times,” he said.

Elizabeth Donald: 618-239-2507, @BNDedonald