Schools locked down during search for fugitive|[10/28/06]

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 28, 2006

Vicksburg and Warren junior high schools were locked down for a little more than an hour Friday until city and federal authorities found a local man wanted in Georgia for violating his probation.

Around 3:15 p.m., Vicksburg police, the Mississippi Department of Corrections and Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics arrested Joseph Parson, 22, 2109 Oak St., in the 1100 block of First North Street.

&#8220He is a convicted felon for statutory rape in Georgia,” said Sgt. Tom Wilson, one of the arresting officers for the Vicksburg Police Department. &#8220Georgia issued a warrant because he violated his probation.”

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Vicksburg Police Lt. Billy Brown said U.S. marshals were chasing Parson near Baldwin Ferry Road, the location of both schools, when local police learned federal agents were trying to serve a warrant.

&#8220Given the close proximity to the schools, the school resource officers were notified that we were looking for a guy around Baldwin Ferry Road,” Brown said.

That’s when Vicksburg Junior High and Warren Junior High were locked down, about 1 p.m., said Dr. James Price, superintendent of the Vicksburg Warren School District.

&#8220The (school resource officers) at both junior highs said it would be best to go into high alert,” he said. &#8220We locked those buildings down so he wouldn’t end up with our kids.”

By 2:15, students and parents were allowed to leave the campuses.

Vicksburg Junior High principal Michael Winters said both schools responded well to the lockdown.

&#8220I don’t think it could’ve gotten any better,” he said. &#8220Everybody followed procedures as planned, and there were no incidents.”

Cedric Magee, Warren Junior High’s principal, agreed.

&#8220They did an excellent job – the teachers, the students” and all involved in the lockdown, he said. &#8220In a situation like that, we have certain procedures that we do, and those teachers followed those procedures to the letter.”

Patrolman Randy Naylor, a resource officer at Vicksburg Junior High, said students were not allowed into hallways during the lockdown.

&#8220We’ve got to protect our kids,” he said, adding the measure was precautionary and that everyone was safe. &#8220That’s the name of the game.”