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Threat ends at South Hill schools, man in custody

SoVaNow.com / November 08, 2019

Police in South Hill ended their hunt shortly after 8 a.m. Friday for the man armed with a high-powered rifle who was thought to have been hiding in the woods across from Park View High School, and who prompted a lock down of the high school and Park View Middle School and South Hill Elementary School Thursday afternoon while search efforts took place.

Sheriff Bobby Hawkins said deputies found him at a home in the South Hill area. He was unharmed and taken into custody without further incident. Hawkins did not release the suspect’s name or the location where he was found.

Hawkins said the decision to lock down the schools on Thursday was “done out of caution.” There was no evidence the suspect posed a threat to anyone other than himself. That same caution is why “officers were stationed at the schools and a perimeter was set on US 1 [Highway 58],” he added.

Hawkins confirmed that the students were released at their regular time on Thursday and there was no delay to the start of classes on Friday morning.

The search for the suspect began Thursday afternoon after deputies conducted a wellness check at the suspect’s home in the South Hill area. According to the father who was at the home when deputies arrived, he’d tried to get a temporary custody order on his son, but the request was denied. When the father returned home, his son was gone and had taken a rifle with him.

The three schools in South Hill were put on lockdown around 1:30 p.m. as police, including deputies with the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office, State Police, officers with the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and South Hill Police, began their search for the suspect who was described as potentially suicidal and in possession of a high-powered rifle. At the time, he was believed to be in the woods behind the trash disposal site on U.S. 58/Highway 1 across from Park View High School.

Superintendent of Schools Paul Nichols notified the public of the incident by posting word of the lockdown on his blog at mcpsweb.org and on the school division’s social media page. He also stressed that no other schools in the county were impacted by the event.

Hawkins thanked the State Police, South Hill Police, Game and Inland Fisheries officers and his deputies for their efforts during the search and the safe apprehension of the suspect.

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