The decision by Bloomfield School District administrators to be on lockdown all of next week has been reduced to one additional day of lockdown on Monday as a safety precaution.
Bloomfield schools were in lockdown mode Friday after a suspicious person was seen outside the junior-senior high school allegedly looking for a female student Thursday afternoon.
The suspect, a juvenile whose name was not released due to his age, was arrested Friday evening on three felony counts related to incidents in Clay County by Bloomfield Police Department, and was transported to the Clay County Sheriff's Department.
According to a press release issued by Superintendent Dan Sichting Saturday evening, school officials made the decision to lock down Friday due to information that surfaced at approximately 3:10 p.m. on Thursday.
A 17-year-old male was on the school campus attempting to locate a minor female and speak to her.
He first attempted to gain access to the school Thursday around 1 p.m., where he was confronted by junior-senior high school principal David Dean. The juvenile claimed he wanted to enroll at the school, but he was denied access to the building.
The juvenile was later confronted by a staff member outside the staff member's home on John Street, at which time the juvenile claimed he was an undercover law enforcement officer looking for a minor student.
"The suspect only used the female's first name so identification of the female took some time," Sichting wrote in the press release.
The suspect later approached the student in the park after school, but her mother was waiting for her, so the interaction was brief.
Through investigation, the Bloomfield Police Department (BPD) located the juvenile in an apartment in Bloomfield shortly before 10 p.m. Thursday. Town Marshal Kenneth Tharp said the juvenile was detained, questioned then released to his mother.
"At that point, the only potential violation of the law the juvenile may have committed was an alleged act of impersonating an officer. Law enforcement officials were not able to incarcerate the juvenile for this offense," Sichting said in the press release.
BPD officers searched the home where the juvenile was staying, and found no weapons. Additionally, it appeared he did not have access to any weapons.
"The juvenile, without access to a weapon, did not pose a specific threat to Bloomfield School District students. Bloomfield School District remained on lockdown procedures, however, due to the possibility of a 'copy cat' event," Sichting said.
At approximately 2:30 p.m. Friday, Dean was contacted by a Clay County school administrator and learned of information about the juvenile that caused the school to raise concerns once more.
"The Clay County school administrator had encountered a similar individual earlier who attempted to enroll at his school district," Sichting wrote in the press release.
Dean scanned a photograph obtained during the juvenile's intake to Greene County Jail, and sent it to the Clay County administrator.
"It was discovered the juvenile was the same individual who had behaved in a similar fashion in Clay County. Additionally, it was also discovered the same juvenile was being investigated for an alleged sexual assault on a minor student in Clay County," Sichting said.
Dean immediately contacted the Bloomfield Police Department, and within an hour BPD and Clay County officers were able to substantiate the allegations.
"Bloomfield School District students were released at 3 p.m. (on Friday) as normal, but a strong police presence was in place at the time of student dismissal. The police patrol was looking for the juvenile near Bloomfield School District facilities. At this time, Bloomfield School District gained a 'no trespass' order for the juvenile at Bloomfield School District and the Bloomfield Park. Additionally, the Bloomfield Police Department urged Bloomfield School District to not release many details at this point in order to not compromise their investigation," Sichting said.
By 3:30 p.m., it had been confirmed by Clay County officials the same juvenile under suspicion in Bloomfield was the individual being investigated for allegedly committing the sexual assault in Clay County.
Clay County prosecutors obtained a pick-up order Friday afternoon, and the juvenile was taken into custody by BPD at approximately 5 p.m. Friday.
The juvenile was then turned over to the Clay County Sheriff's Department, and is currently being held at a juvenile detention facility on three felony charges related to the incidents occurring in Clay County.
As of Saturday evening, the Clay County Sheriff's Deputy who had worked the case was not available. The exact charges are not known at this time.
The juvenile is scheduled to appear in court for his initial court hearing early in the week.