Metro-East News

Disoriented man found in Belleville school

Police found a man possibly suffering from a mental illness inside a Belleville Safe School classroom on Thursday morning.

The man, who appeared confused and disoriented, was taken to a hospital, said Belleville Police Capt. John Moody.

“It appears that he did not have any contact with students,” Moody said. “Not that we are aware of, anyway.”

The man, who was not identified because he was not charged, was first spotted in a hallway drinking at a water fountain by an administrator at the Safe School at 1722 W. Main St., Moody said. The administrator spoke to the man, who then went into an empty classroom.

St. Clair County Regional Office of Education Superintendent Susan Sarfaty said the man walked into an occupied classroom and sat down, then told the teacher, “I’m here to learn.”

The teacher then told the man that was fine, but she was going to take the students to a different room first, Sarfaty said. She then moved the students to the office and locked the door.

The school was placed on lock down. The administrator notified Belleville Police at 8:56 a.m. on Thursday.

“When the police arrived, they found the individual in the classroom alone. The officers issued multiple orders and the individual was compliant,” Moody said.

Due to statements made to officers at the scene, the individual seemed confused and disorientated, Moody said. Officers called emergency medical services, and the man was taken to a hospital for treatment.

“There was concern about his mental condition,” Moody said. “These officers did a great job in their approach to the situation.”

Sarfaty said the man entered the building while students arrived for school and the front door was momentarily left unattended. Sarfaty will review video of the incident to determine whether policies need to change.

“We are very fortunate,” Sarfaty said. “It appears this man had no intent to injure anyone. He simply wandered in.”

The Safe School offers an alternative for students who are facing expulsion. Thirty to 75 students attend the school.

The investigation continues, but Moody said he did not expect charges to be filed.

Beth Hundsdorfer: 618-239-2570, @bhundsdorfer