School locked down following police chase | December 26, 2008 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Community Pulse - December 26, 2008

School locked down following police chase

Students at John Baldwin Elementary School were placed on secure lockdown Friday, after a suspected car thief in a police pursuit entered the school grounds. California Highway Patrol spokesman Officer Steve Creel said the incident occurred at 10:30 a.m. Dec. 19 on westbound Sycamore Valley Road.

A CHP officer was in the left turn lane to enter southbound I-680 when the vehicle in front of him, a 1998 Mercedes SL, made an illegal U-turn on a red light. The officer turned on his lights and siren to make a traffic stop and the suspect turned right and fled down the off-ramp from northbound I-680 and sped off down the shoulder of the freeway in the wrong direction.

Creel said the officer followed the suspect down the ramp but then stopped pursuit due to safety reasons. At this point, several motorists began pointing to the suspect vehicle, which had performed a U-turn into oncoming traffic and was fleeing back up the off-ramp. The car accelerated up the ramp and turned right onto eastbound Sycamore Valley Road and then turned south onto Brookside Drive.

Officers found the vehicle abandoned near John Baldwin Elementary School. A check of the license plate found it was stolen in Martinez and officers began canvassing the area. Apparently the suspect, identified as 22-year-old Richard Poe of Antioch, went into the school and asked to use the telephone. Creel said it was unclear if Poe was allowed to use the phone, but administrators at the school initiated their security plan to keep the children in their classrooms and contacted police.

Poe left the building and was apprehended by officers setting up an area perimeter near Timberline Court. He was taken into custody on charges of possession of stolen property. He was taken to the Martinez Detention Center. Further charges may be filed pending the completion of the investigation.

Creel complimented the staff at Baldwin for their quick thinking and handling of the situation. Reports say the school remained on lockdown for nearly an hour while after the arrest was made while officers searched the area for a possible second suspect. No other individuals were located.

-- Geoff Gillette


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