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False alarm leads to lockdowns at village schools



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November 09, 2011 - "Overreaction."

That's the word Oxford Village Police Chief Mike Neymanowski used to describe the situation that led to lockdowns at Daniel Axford and Oxford elementaries on Tuesday, Nov. 8.

The schools, both located in the village, initiated lockdown procedures for about an hour after police informed them they were searching for a suspicious man who had been spotted at the village municipal complex on W. Burdick St.

"(The village police) reported to us that there was a strange person in a white trench coat that was in the area," said OES Principal Jeff Brown. "We were instructed to go into lockdown."

The lockdown lasted from approximately 9:30 to 10:30 a.m., according to Brown.

It turns out this suspicious individual, who was also wearing a fanny pack, was just someone who was waiting around while a friend dropped off a softball jersey at the village police station, according to Neymanowski, who plays in a senior softball league.

An employee of the Oxford Township Parks and Rec. Dept., which is located next door to the police station, encountered this individual, thought he seemed suspicious and reported it to police.

Police searched for the man, but didn't find him. It was only after reviewing the station's video surveillance recordings that Neymanowski said they "put one and one together" and realized the whole incident was just a false alarm.

"Nothing to it – absolutely zero," Neymanowski said. "Everybody just overreacted . . . No threat whatsoever."

Brown noted that the lockdown did not interfere with the ability of Oxford Township voters to cast their ballots during Tuesday's school board election.

OES serves as a polling site for township voters living in precincts #2 and #7.

"The polls never closed," Brown said

He explained that all of the school's doors were locked, however, a poll worker was stationed at the front doors to let only voters inside the building.

"They just made sure that no one with that description was let in," Brown said. "Voting was never interrupted."

Township Deputy Clerk Renee Wilson confirmed "no voters were turned away."

Brown indicated parents would be informed of what happened that day.

"We're going to send out a very brief note to our parents through our e-mail distribution that explains that we did go on lockdown," Brown said.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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