Schools go through ‘soft lockdown’

A search of a man who fled law enforcement early Thursday morning led to a partial lockdown at Pine City schools.

The Pine County Sheriff’s Office reported that a man wearing an orange and black sweatshirt fled a deputy on a traffic stop on the morning of Sept. 5. Law enforcement began searching the area around Golf Avenue near Our Redeemer Lutheran Church and the Pine City Civic Center, which houses the school’s Area Learning Center.

 Pine City schools were notified, and at 10:40 a.m. the schools went into what administration called a “soft lockdown” and sent out a notice to parents through text and voicemail.

“We were notified by the Pine County Sheriff’s Office that they were searching for someone,” Pine City School Superintendent Curt Tryggestad explained. “They told us that we weren’t in danger, but for the sake of being safe we went into what I would call a soft lockdown, a routine lockdown.”

In a soft lockdown, classes continue and activity  within the school building goes on as normal, but security is heightened at the school entrance. The Area Learning Center was locked down in the same way.

Tryggestad said that it was believed that the man was not armed, and there was no reason to think he was targeting the school or students.

“We worked very closely with the sheriff ... [and] knew what was going on the whole time,” he said. “And then, at a certain point, they said, ‘He’s gone.’”

The sheriff’s office later reported that the area was cleared, and the male suspect was not located and was believed to be out of the area. The sheriff’s office also stated that there was no threat to the public.

A short time after that announcement, school officials lifted the soft lockdown.

“In essence it went as planned,” Tryggestad said. “The staff and the kids handled it well. The community handled it well, I thought. It just kind of proved that the process works.”

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