BELLEVILLE, Ill. (KMOV.com) – A suspect is in custody after a 'credible threat' prompted Belleville East High School and Belleville West High School to close Wednesday.
Just after 1 a.m. Wednesday, according to Belleville police, the mother of an 18-year-old told officers her son made suicidal comments before leaving home due to "relationship problems with his girlfriend," who is a student at Belleville East High School. The mother said she later found her handgun missing.
Police said they gathered information from others who said the suspect was possibly planning to confront his girlfriend and other students at the Belleville East High School campus. Officers then notified the school district of the active investigation.
Around 6:15 a.m., school district Superintendent Dr. Jeff Dosier posted a message on the district’s Facebook page stating that police notified them of a threat made to a student, which prompted them to cancel classes at Belleville East High School and Belleville West High School.
"We feel very fortunate we were able to take that action, before students or staff were on campus," said Dr. Dosier.
The friend group of the suspect and girl he threatened encompasses students at both high schools, according to the superintendent, which is why they closed them. Dr. Doiser told News 4 he is unaware of what exactly the threat was or if it was made in person or on social media. He said that the district took action after police felt the threat was credible. Dr. Doiser says the friend network of the two students involved includes both campuses.
Just before 7 a.m., Skyzoom4 was over Belleville West High School and saw police cruisers blocking the entrances.
Police and a tactical unit were seen outside of Belleville East High School around 7 a.m. They were later seen entering the school with guns.
Just before 8 a.m. Wednesday, officials at the St. Louis Air Traffic Control Tower told Skyzoom4 a temporary flight restriction was put in place by the Belleville Police Department because they were investigating a potential active shooter at Belleville East High School. A News 4 photographer at the scene reported he had heard no gunshots and police seemed ‘relatively calm’ just before 8 a.m.
The 18-year-old suspect was taken into custody around 7:50 a.m. off of school grounds. School officials told News 4 there was a heavy police response at the schools because they were unaware of where the suspect was. School officials said the teenager is enrolled with the district but is not currently attending.
Both high schools were scheduled to have their last day of final exams on Wednesday. Dr. Dosier said final exams will resume on Thursday, May 24.
No other details regarding the threat have been released.
Stay tuned to News 4 & KMOV.com for more on this developing news.
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