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Armed domestic violence suspect causes school officials to lock down two schools

A “modified lockdown” took place at Islander Middle School and Island Park Elementary last Friday morning in response to news that the Mercer Island Police Department was searching for a suspect involved in a domestic violence case. The suspect was reportedly carrying a knife.

During a modified lockdown, students are locked in classrooms with their teachers for security. Instruction, however, continues as normal.

According to Mercer Island Police Commander Leslie Burns, the lockdown was in response to a 45-year-old man with a history of mental illness who had threatened his mother with a knife. He also threatened to throw gasoline on her and burn her. By the time police arrived at the residence, at about 9 a.m., the man had fled on foot.

“We set out to scour the area, and because the area covered Pioneer Park, we called the schools to tell them,” Burns said, adding that both schools made the decision to initiate the modified lockdown. “It is the schools’ choice, and they generally error on the side of safety.”

The lockdown was lifted at 11:45 a.m. when Superintendent Gary Plano was notified that the suspect had been apprehended and booked into the King County Jail.

According to Burns, the suspect had returned to his mother’s house while police were searching for him. Officers found him in the home and arrested him for felony threats.

Lockdowns at Mercer Island schools are rare, but do occur one or two times a year, Burns said.

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