Wednesday, January 16, 2013

After gunshot, more security at schools

Police investigating shotgun blast at Wood River High


By TERRY SMITH
Express Staff Writer

A glass doorway on the northwest side of Wood River High School was boarded up on Friday after someone shot through the door early that morning to gain entry to the building. Photo by Willy Cook

Local police have increased security at schools in Blaine County in the aftermath of someone using a shotgun to blast through a glass door for entry into Wood River High School early Friday morning.

The incident led to a delay in opening the high school Friday as police scoured the building to make sure all was secure.

“We searched every square inch of that building, lockers, trash cans, everything,” Hailey Police Chief Jeff Gunter said. “When we were confident that there was no one in the building or weapons in the building, that’s when we let school start.”

The Blaine County School District reported that school started that day at 10:30 a.m.

The incident was the second violent break-in at a School District facility within a week. Early in the morning of Saturday, Jan. 5, someone broke through a glass door at the district-owned Community Campus, which is just to the south of the high school.

Gunter said the two break-ins may be related.

“We’re investigating if it is. It’s very possible,” he said.

Gunter said police are reviewing camera surveillance video from both facilities to identify a suspect or suspects. He said a figure was caught on video inside the high school.

It is the second time within a month that police in Blaine County have beefed up school security. Following a school shooting on Dec. 14 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., local police increased surveillance and other security procedures at schools throughout the county until they were closed for the Christmas holidays on Dec. 21.

Gunter said that as a result of the Friday shotgun incident, security will remain at a heightened state at least through this week and possibly longer.

Wood River High School has a full-time Hailey Police Department resource officer, but the agency posted three extra policemen at the school Friday and at the start of this week.

“Then we had officers at all the other campuses doing ‘stop-bys’ and ‘drive-bys,’” Gunter said.

He added that Bellevue Marshal Larry Clark was “keeping a close watch on Bellevue Elementary School.

“We’re definitely concerned about the break-in and how it was carried out with a firearm,” Gunter said. “We’re doing everything we can to try and arrest the suspect or suspects.”

Blaine County Sheriff Gene Ramsey said security was also increased at Carey School and at Hemingway Elementary School in Ketchum.

Sun Valley Assistant Police Chief Mike Crawford reported that police are also keeping a closer watch on the private Community School in Sun Valley.

Gunter reported that the Friday break-in at the high school occurred at about 1:30 a.m. through a glass door on the northwest part of the building. For reasons unknown, whoever broke in triggered a fire alarm that the Hailey Fire Department responded to a 1:34 a.m. Gunter said police were called to the school at about 2 a.m. after the method of entry was discovered.

A massive search of the building involved not only Hailey police but also deputies from the Blaine County Sheriff’s Office and the Bellevue Marshal’s Office. Exterior searches were also made at the nearby Community Campus and Silver Creek High School.

Sheriff Ramsey said Monday that the shotgun incident is keeping police throughout the valley on alert.

“The trends we’ve had lately, the [Sheriff’s Office] vehicles that were damaged and the school break-ins, I don’t know what’s going on but we’ve definitely got a heightened sense of security with what’s going on in the valley,” Ramsey said.

 

Reward offered

The city of Hailey and the Blaine County School District are jointly offering a $2,000 reward for information that leads to prosecution of the person or people who used a shotgun to shoot out a glass door early Friday morning to break into Wood River High School. In a press release issued Monday, Hailey Police Chief Jeff Gunter requested the assistance of the public in the break-in investigation. Anyone with information can contact the Police Department at 788-3531. Information can also be provided anonymously be accessing the tip tab on the Hailey Police Department website at www.haileycityhall.org or by texting the Blaine County Sheriff’s Office tip line at tip411.


Terry Smith: tsmith@mtexpress.com

 




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