Fleeing burglary suspect prompts Berney school lockdown

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WALLA WALLA — A man fleeing what police believe was a home burglary caused a 45-minute lockdown Tuesday at Berney Elementary School.

School officials contacted the police after students and staff at recess noticed the man jumping over a fence and running across the school’s playfields. The school was placed on a modified “yellow” lockdown from noon until 12:45 p.m. while police investigated.

During the lockdown, students were brought inside from recess and entrances to the building were secured, but classes indoors continued as normal, Walla Walla School District spokesman Mark Higgins said.

“We take it seriously if someone comes onto one of our campuses unauthorized,” Higgins said. “We have plans in place to make sure that does not become a threat to any of our students.”

Walla Walla police spokesman Tim Bennett said investigators found a house nearby on Pleasant Street they suspect the fleeing man had burglarized. Officers found broken windows near the basement of the house, but no one was home to confirm whether the house had been entered and whether anything was missing. As of Wednesday morning, police had still not been able to make contact with the homeowner.

No arrests have been made and police do not have a good description of the man.

“At some point he was carrying a pillow case,” Bennett said.

Ben Wentz can be reached at benwentz@wwub.com or 526-8315.

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