Richmond school briefly on lockdown, suspicious man nearby

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RICHMOND, Ky. (WKYT) - A central Kentucky school was placed on lockdown Thursday afternoon after an incident on school grounds. Students at White Hall Elementary say they saw an unfamiliar man near the playground. And after students said they thought the man had a gun, teachers sprang into action.

No one was ever in danger at White Hall Elementary in Richmond, but school officials say they'd rather be safe than sorry. Law enforcement put the school on lockdown when a suspicious man was spotted nearby by students.

"Everything seems to be resolved," said Erin Stewart, who works at the Madison County Board of Education. "There was a little bit of panic in the beginning."

Teachers rushed students inside from the playground, alerting the principal that students had reported seeing a man possibly with a gun. That's when city police, sheriff's deputies, and state police showed up, putting the school on lockdown. And ironically law enforcement officials were all in Berea for an active shooter drill when they got the call.

"We're very, very grateful to our law enforcement agencies for handling the situation the way that they did," said Stewart.

School officials tell us was determined later that the man is a trustee of the city. Richmond police say he's a state inmate on work release and also part of the Halfway House program in Richmond. He was not arrested, but he was in custody for a period of time for questioning. As a trustee, he cleans up trash near the school buses and was unarmed when police searched him. We are told that he works on the grounds at the bus garage and Madison County Transportation Cabinet.

"He was close to the campus but not all that close really so whatever they saw in his hand could have made them nervous," said Stewart.

It was tense for more than an hour, as the lockdown continued, not letting anyone in or out of the elementary school. Rumors quickly spread and some parents did come pick up their kids early from school before school was actually out.

Richmond police say on Friday that the man did nothing wrong and was quickly let go after questioning. They are not releasing the man's name.

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