LAWTON, OK (KSWO) -A police chase near Lawton's Pioneer Park Elementary caused the school to go on lockdown early this morning, catching some parents who aren't plugged into the school's notification system unaware.
It started as a normal traffic stop at SE Gore and Cache Creek around 8 this morning and the driver pulled over, but as the officer walked up to the car, he took off. After a short pursuit, the chase ended in the Garden Village neighborhood at the corner of Village Drive and Garden Lane. The driver and a woman then jumped out of the vehicle after pulling into a driveway, and took off running into a wooded area. Police found the woman hiding in the grass. They found the man hiding in neck-deep water in a nearby creek, and arrested him. He's been identified as Dustin Hicks, who was wanted for crimes in Grady and Muskogee County.
"It was kind of nerve racking," said Denise Bruce, mother of child who attends Pioneer Park Elementary.
Bruce and her daughter, Janice live only 10 minutes away from Pioneer Park Elementary. Denise says she has always felt safe about her daughter walking to and from school, but is shaken by the idea that her child could have unknowingly walked into a dangerous situation today.
That's why Kyle Smith of Lawton Public Schools says it's important that parents provide phone numbers and email addresses on the enrollment forms so they can be notified about lockdowns as quickly as possible. They have an automated messaging system that will send out a notification to parents that the school is on lockdown, which is what they did this morning. Smith also encourages parents to have a plan when you get that information..
"Keep your child at home until you get the all clear message at that point. If you child has already left for school, or they are at school, of course we are going to keep them safe. You don't need to show up at the school because we're not going to let anyone in the school at that time until the lockdown is lifted," said Smith.
Whether students walk or ride their bike to school, Smith says if something is going on, the officers will escort the students inside immediately. They can also go to the fire station less than a block away from the school. As for students who ride the bus, the procedure is a little different.
"We will make a decision if the buses are just pulling up and has the lockdown been called. Of course, we're going to let the students off the bus and into the building. IF the buses haven't arrived on campus yet, those buses will be notified by radio to go to an alternate site, typically another school that's not under lockdown," said Smith.
Bruce says she and her daughter will take away a lot from today. She says they will now have a plan and prepare for different situations that could happen while on the way to school.
"I think we're going to have to think about that and have a procedure because if she had been walking by herself this morning where would she have waited. Would it have been safe to wait for the officer," said Bruce.
Smith says they've had a lot of practice and with the help from the police and fire department, they know the children are in good hands.
"It's a community effort, it's not just Lawton Public Schools. Everybody in Lawton cares about our schools and kids and making sure they are safe," said Smith.