ST. CHARLES, Mo. - A man was taken into custody near Francis Howell High School less than 24 hours after a teacher was shot while jogging on a nearby trail. Police say he is a "person of interest."
The shooting occurred shortly before 3 p.m. Wednesday on the Hamburg Trail, south of the school and adjacent to the baseball field.
The school was placed on lockdown Thursday morning after investigators found a tent in the woods. Other area schools were also placed on 'soft lockdown' as a precaution. They were Meadows Parkway, Independence, John Weldon, Daniel Boone, Bryan, and Francis Howell Middle School.
Those lockdowns were later lifted.
At that time the shooting, the campus was placed on lockdown and students were escorted to vehicles for pickup. Those students were participating in extracurricular activities.
“The Metro Support surveyed the area for any evidence to bring in a suspect. We did find a tent in the area of last night's shooting. Our SWAT Team came in just to check the tent to see if anyone was there; we did not find anyone. They continued to do a ground search of the area and we did find a person of interest,” said Val Joyner, spokesperson with St. Charles Police Department.
Authorities said the 36-year-old teacher didn’t recognize the suspect. He was able to flag a car down for help.
“Any random act of violence is alarming and for the teacher, his family, and the school district. For someone to get shot while they are jogging or exercising, doing their normal routine, it’s alarming,” Joyner said.
The arrest has brought a sigh of relief for the area and authorities.
“Good news for the community. We hope that we found who we were looking for so order can be restored,” Joyner said.
Meanwhile, the wounded teacher was released from the hospital Wednesday evening and is expected to make a full recovery.
Statement from Francis Howell School District
Safety Alert Update from Superintendent Dr. Mary Hendricks-Harris:
I’m writing to provide you with an update regarding the situation that occurred yesterday near Francis Howell High School. This morning, we were notified that the St. Charles County SWAT Team would be searching the area near Francis Howell High School for a suspect in yesterday’s shooting. During this time, Francis Howell High School and Francis Howell Union did not allow anyone to enter or leave the building. Other schools, including John Weldon, Bryan Middle School, Independence, Meadows Parkway, Daniel Boone and Francis Howell Middle did not have any outside activities and carefully monitored visitors. Momentarily, some of these schools may not have allowed people to enter or leave as the police search became more intense.
At approximately 11:40 AM, we were notified by police that they have located and apprehended a person of interest, and our schools were given the all clear to come out of lockdown. During the lockdowns, all students remained safe and learning continued as much as possible.
The cooperation of our students, parents, and staff to follow our safety and lockdown procedures is greatly appreciated. I would also like to thank law enforcement officials for their assistance during this incident.
As always, the safety and security of our students is a top priority.