By Beth Dodd:
Woodland Park High School and Gateway Elementary School were locked down on Wednesday, February 12 just as parents were arriving to pick up their students after class. Police officers searched for a suspicious person while police cars blocked access in and out of the campus area.
Traffic began piling up in front of the schools after the lock down began around 2:50 p.m. The Woodland Park School District and Teller County Nixle sent an automated message to parents and residents at 3:27 p.m. The message said that Woodland Park High School and Gateway Elementary were on official lock-down due to a suspicious person in the area. The individual in question was described as a white male in his 30s, dressed in camouflage with a backpack. The school opted to hold students as a safety precaution until the suspicious individual could be located and identified by the Woodland Park police.
During the lock down school buses were held at Woodland Park Middle School. Normally, the district’s fifteen buses pick up students at the middle school before gathering students at the high school. Instead, students were directed away from the bus stop area and sent back inside the schools. Students who were starting to walk home were also directed back inside. The holding of the buses caused the pick up of Summit Elementary School students to also be delayed.
By 4:15 p.m., the Woodland Park Police Department had secured the area and had given permission for the schools to release the students. The Woodland Park School District and Nixle sent a second message letting everyone know the situation had been resolved and students were free to go home. The buses resumed normal service approximately 45 minutes behind schedule. Students from Gateway and then later the high school were released to their parents.
A follow-up statement was issued the next day by Woodland Park School District Superintendent Jed Bowman. He shared that according to the Woodland Park Police Department, the suspicious person was the parent of a high school student. He was seen as suspicious by several students, who reported him. The police determined that this parent was not and is not a threat to area students. Bowman went on to thank everyone who helped ensure student safety and apologized for any inconvenience to students, families, and staff.
Classes at both schools resumed as usual on Thursday, but high school classes were briefly interrupted by a second security scare. Around 8:00 a.m. a student’s backpack was found to be ticking mysteriously. Students in that wing of the school were evacuated while police who were already in the building investigated. The source of the suspicious sound was found to be a metronome, a device used by musicians to keep time. By 8:30 all students were back in class as usual.