News

Harlan Elementary School placed on lockdown after false claims of shooting

MT. PLEASANT - Harlan Elementary School was placed on lockdown Tuesday morning after a man claimed that his wife had been shot outside of the school.


Richard Hall, Jr., 43, of Mt. Pleasant, was arrested after he ran into Harlan Elementary School office and falsely claimed that his wife had just been shot, sending the K-5 elementary school into lockdown.


According to police reports, a 911 call was placed stating a woman had just been shot outside of the school. Mt. Pleasant Community School District Superintendent John Henriksen said an individual, later identified as Hall, had dropped off his children at Harlan. He then entered the building through the main doors, ran by the office and yelled, ?Call 911, my wife has been shot.?


Hall then ran north down the hallway, exited the building, got into his van and left.


Henriksen said the school secretary, listed on the school?s website as Teresa Owens, alerted the teachers to the situation. Henriksen said students were taken into the classrooms and the doors were locked. Instruction continued as the secretary called 911 and police arrived on the scene.


On scene, police determined no shooting had occurred and that Hall had left the scene. At 10:38 a.m., an E-911 call was received from a residence in the 1600 grid of 235th St., stating Hall was now home and causing issues at the residence. Police arrived at the residence and found Hall, and his family, were in good physical condition and without injuries.


Hall was taken to Henry County Health Center for further evaluation and treatment.


Within an hour, Henriksen and Henry County Sheriff Rich McNamee had issued news releases regarding the matter. In Henriksen?s message, he affirms that at no time was a firearm involved or on the premises. There were no shorts fired and no injuries sustained. The lockdown was lifted once the emergency was over.


Henriksen said after the initial 911 call and lockdown of Harlan, he had to make the decision whether or not to place the district?s other buildngs underlockdown. ?You have to make an assessment at that time,? he said. Henriksen said he spoke to the police and knew at that time they had information on where Hall was and would be soon apprehended. Henriksen said given the information he decided only to have Harlan on lockdown.


The school district has been reviewing their safety procedures. ?As a district we are going to invest in our infrastructure,? Henriksen said. The district will be replacing each buildng?s front door with access control doors, which are locked at all times. Guests wishing to enter the school will have to be buzzed in by office personnel. Other premimiter doors will be locked electronically and will only be opened with an electronic key.


As for the safety measures taken on Tuesday, Henriksen said he was very proud of the Harlan staff. ?Our Harlan secretary did a fantastic job. She alerted the staff who got the kids out of the hallways and into the classrooms.?


The investigation on the matter will continue between the Henry County Sheriff?s Office and the Mt. Pleasant Police Department. The Sheriff?s Office and police department were assisted in the initial response by New London Police Department and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.