In Mont Belvieu, Texas, 30 miles east of Houston, police have surrounded a lone suicidal gunman and placed two schools on lockdown. Barbers Hill Independent School district has the middle school south and primary schools on lockdown at the time. There are churches on lockdown in the immediate area as well.
According to local police, a man in the Lake of Champions subdivision near the schools and churches is currently standing in the open with a gun to his head. Channel 2 News Houston has reported that the suspect fired at least two shots at police. Mont Belvieu Police and the Baytown SWAT team are in place and the situation is said to be well in hand. The lockdown began around 9:30 a.m., and the Barbers Hill Independent School District took immediate action, sheltering students in place, while the police department handled the situation externally, maintaining visuals of the gunman throughout. Additionally, the school district maintained communication with parents through Twitter feeds as well as other communication methods established for emergency situations.
An armed & suicidal man is in a field 500 yards off eagle drive across from our campuses. We have locked down appropriate campus's— BarbersHillSUPT (@BarbersHillSoup) April 27, 2016
Modified Shelter in Place for all campuses. Campus front entrances will be open for parent access. Buses will run on a normal schedule.— Barbers Hill ISD (@BHISD) April 27, 2016
The superintendent also released an emergency message, as reported by Click2Houston.
“We have a dangerous situation progressing involving an armed and suicidal man in a field 400-500 yards across Eagle Drive from our campuses. We have locked down appropriate buildings and all police agencies are on the scene and managing the situation. No one should be driving that direction of Eagle Drive. All of our children and staff are safe and we are taking these actions to be overly cautious. Traffic is limited on Eagle Drive. We will notify you of all changes as they occur. I have complete confidence in Chief (Kenny) Widner and Chief (Virgil) Blasdel in containing this situation. The affected campuses in lockdown are Middle School South and Kindergarten/Primary.”
All seven of the Barbers Hill schools are on a single stretch of Eagle Drive, FM 3180, located in Mont Belvieu just off Interstate 10. Along the same road are several subdivisions, shops, and churches. According to KHOU Channel 11 News, the reports that shots had been fired were incorrect. They are now saying that no shots were fired. More information to follow. As of 12 p.m. ABC13 reported that the situation was still ongoing. The shelter-in-place order is still in place for all seven schools in Mont Belvieu’s Barbers Hill ISD. The suicidal man is still armed, but he is surrounded and contained by police, including Mont Belvieu Police Department and Baytown Police Department’s SWAT team on scene to assist. Reports have said the man was distraught over the recent death of his mother, which led to today’s events.
Carla Rabalais, the spokesperson for the school district said the lockdown order had been downgraded to shelter-in-place as of 10 a.m. Some doors will remain open for parental access, and buses will run according to schedule pending further developments. As of now, the district stresses that all students are safe.
Update, 12:03 a.m. : A 46-year-old man was taken into custody after approximately six hours of negotiations. The man held a gun to his head during that time while surrounded by police, including Baytown’s SWAT team. Mont Belvieu Police Department did confirm, according to the Houston Chronicle, that the man “was in possession of a handgun and did fire several rounds during the incident.”
Way too often it is reported that police are too quick to resort to deadly conduct when in all reality police want a peaceful ending to these difficult situations. Today these officers used a lot of patience and a good deal of restraint that resulted in no loss of life and a peaceful ending. The police officers, the suspect, and the students in neighboring schools all went home safely at the end of the day.
[Photo by Elnur/Shutterstock Images]