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Police: Camouflage-clad man attempts forced entry at school

Published On: Dec 18 2012 09:47:56 PM CST

BELOIT, Wis. -

Beloit police arrested a man who posed as an intruder trying to enter a Beloit elementary school Tuesday, the Beloit School District said.

In the wake of the Connecticut mass shooting, a local citizen decided to test school security by trying to enter a side entrance at Converse Elementary School at 1602 Townline Ave., according to a Beloit School District news release.

Building doors are locked at all Beloit School District buildings, including front entrances, which are monitored, according to school officials.

A teacher at the scene reported seeing a camouflage-garbed man at a side entrance of the primary school (grades K-3) who was trying to forcibly open the doors, according to the news release.

The teacher reminded a nearby kindergartener that students are not to open the doors to anyone, and she immediately cleared the hallway and notified the front office about the attempted intruder.

Another staff member found the man on the sidewalk and was told he was only "testing" school security, according to the release.

The district's safety and security coordinator was called, who talked to the man and heard his intent to test the school, as well as the man's name and address.

The district said police were called, and officers responded quickly and arrested the man at the address given to the security coordinator.

Principal Stephanie Jacobs will be following up with her staff to evaluate actions taken, as well as sending a letter home to Converse parents on security issues.

The principal plans to not only reinforce previous messages of following correct procedures out of consideration for student safety, but also tightening those procedures such as no longer allowing parents arriving very early to pick up their children, and waiting inside the school, according to the release.

Beloit Superintendent Steve McNeal is urging the community to not take it upon themselves to repeat such an attempt, noting it is not legal and can be traumatic for students, especially at primary schools like Converse.

McNeal said he commends the quick actions of the teacher in getting children to safety, and appreciates the Beloit Police Department's quick response.

"With parents and community members understandably confused and worried about school safety, today's incident at Converse Elementary School is a good reminder for citizens to come to school staff with questions and concerns, rather than attempting to 'test' school security on their own," said Melissa Badger, community relations coordinator for the school district, in a statement.

The district noted that emergency drills, such as lockdown drills, practiced throughout the year in the district, are done with a strong education component meant to instill greater awareness of the different emergency procedures without instilling unnecessary fear.

  • PHOTOS: Madison store helps collect hundreds of Teddy bears for police

    MADISON, Wis.--A west Madison store is part of an effort to collect hundreds of stuffed animals to donate to six police departments in Southern Wisconsin.

    Todd Merryfield, owner of The Learning Shop at 714 S. Gammon Road, said the store is collecting the bears for officers who use them to help comfort children with whom police come in contact.

    "This is a great way to support what (police) do," Merryfield said. "Those are the kids that need something like this to reassure them, calm them down, and let them know that things are all right."

    Nearly 500 plush animals were donated Tuesday, a Learning Shop spokeswoman said. The Madison store's effort is part of a larger initiative through the Bears for Humanity organization. 

    Photos by Doug Wahl

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