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High school issues ‘soft lockdown’ after man flees Mercer cops

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By Meaghan Downs

Anderson County High School was under a “soft lockdown” for much of last Wednesday while local law enforcement searched for a man who fled from Mercer County authorities.
Superintendent Sheila Mitchell said Wednesday morning that the district had a safety concern about an individual with possible connections to the high school, and that there was a probability the man would approach the high school campus.
The “soft lockdown” involved increased security in the high school entryway and hallways as students transitioned from class to class.
A One Call notification was sent to parents early Wednesday afternoon to notify them of the increase in security, Mitchell said.
According to Chief Deputy Joe Milam, the Mercer County sheriff’s office sent in a call to Anderson County dispatch after a man took off on foot when a Mercer County officer tried to question him.
Dispatch then put out a call to Anderson County law enforcement for assistance, Milam said.
The suspect took off on foot near the Anderson-Mercer line after an officer attempted to ask him about a complaint in reference to a felon with possession of a gun, Mercer County Sheriff Ernie Kelty said in a phone interview.
The day before the soft lockdown, Milam said, school officials had a minor altercation with the same male suspect at the high school.
Because of that incident, and the fact that the man fled from Mercer County authorities, the school district decided to issue a “soft lockdown,” Milam said.
Milam said city and county police spent about three and a half hours patrolling the area and looking for the male suspect.
After receiving an anonymous tip, a sheriff’s office deputy eventually found the suspect, and handed him over to the Mercer County sheriff’s office.
“At no time was the school in any danger,” Milam said, adding that the location where officers were searching for the man in question was about 15 miles away.
The Mercer County sheriff’s office could not confirm the name of the male suspect or if the suspect was arrested or charged as of press time.