Lock-down at Bland Middle School mainly a precaution, police report

Roxie Murphy
Staff Writer

The Maries County R-2 Middle School campus in Bland was locked down Wednesday around 11 a.m. by orders from the Missouri State Highway Patrol because a suicidal subject was said to be in the area.

According to the Gasconade County Sheriff’s Facebook page, deputies responded to a report of a juvenile with a knife making threats of self-harm in the city of Bland. Bland Middle School was contacted and requested to lock-down while the Belle Police Department was requested to provide security at the school during the incident.

Parents were notified Oct. 17 by the district’s emergency contact system. The text message said, “From the Maries County School District R-2: Good morning, Bland Middle School was put on lock-down. On orders from Missouri Highway Patrol. The situation has been taken care of and the building is back to normal.”

Superintendent Dr. Patrick Call also said the lock-down was a precaution and students were not directly in danger.

“There was not someone on school campus,” Call said, despite rumors to the contrary. “He (the subject) was near the school, about two blocks away.”

When the call was dispatched by Gasconade County, Brian Brennan was the Maries R-2 security officer on duty. Brennan said he heard Gasconade County dispatch an ambulance to Bland for a suicidal subject who was sitting in his vehicle. When the subject was confronted by emergency personnel, he ran.

“Since we do security at the school, (Belle Marshal) Joe Turnbough and I went to the school (in Bland),” Brennan said. “We are contracted to be on campus, so we were protecting the school.”

The city of Belle and Maries R-2 have been working to implement a contract to provide a security officer during school hours since August. While a contract has not yet been implemented, officers began rotating shifts Oct. 2 to be on the school campus during the four-day week.

“He was able to get there faster than I could,” Call said about Brennan being on scene.

Call said the Missouri State Highway Patrol were on scene, as well as Gasconade County Sheriff John Romanus, and Turnbough.

The juvenile was located in possession of a fixed-blade knife on South Taylor Street and was transported by Ozark Central Ambulance District to an area hospital for evaluation and treatment.

Following the incident, Bland Middle School was notified and informed the incident was concluded and the lock-down was removed.

“I was very pleased with the response time in all there entities,” Call said. “It speaks well of all of our officers, making sure not just the school was protected, but people in the community.”

Brennan said overall incident had nothing to do with the school and did not affect the students.

“Nothing happened at the school; students were not in danger,” Brennan said. “It did not involve any students or anything on school grounds.”

Gasconade County Sheriff John Romanus agreed, saying the students were not in danger, and the lock down was a precaution.

Brennan said the event was really a non-incident for the school, since it is locked up and requires visitors to buzz in.

Brennan has been doing the bulk of the security officer’s hours on campus since the program began. He said everything is going smoothly and there haven’t been any incidents yet.

“It seems great. The kids like, the teachers seem to like it. It’s new and we are still adjusting,” Brennan said. Call added that the district has already seen positive results.

“He (Brennan) has been helpful in pointing things out that we needed to work on,” Call said. “And one night, there were boys waiting on a ride and he was talking to them. It alerted us to find out why their ride had not shown up yet.”

The Maries R-2 school board is expected to discuss the contract at the Oct. 25 meeting.

Gerald Elementary School went on a brief lock-down Tuesday due to threat made at a Union school (see story in Gerald News on page 10).