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Nearby barricade situation prompts New Town, N.D., schools into lockdown

By Amy Dalrymple, Forum Communications

NEW TOWN, N.D. – An armed man wanted on drug charges barricaded himself inside a New Town home Wednesday, causing neighboring homes to be evacuated and heightened security at nearby schools.

FBI spokesman Kyle Loven said Wednesday the FBI was working with state and local law enforcement to peacefully resolve the situation involving a man wanted by law enforcement in Colorado on narcotics charges, Loven said.

The situation was fluid, but Loven said he believed the man was alone in a residence of the western North Dakota town.

New Town Police Chief Art Walgren said the man was heavily armed, believed to have at least one high-powered rifle.

“Every attempt to get him out has failed,” Walgren said about 7:15 p.m. Wednesday.

As of 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, the man was still barricaded in his home.

Officers received a report early Wednesday morning after the man broke into a residence, Walgren said. SWAT teams from Minot and Bismarck were among the agencies responding. The limited conversations officers had with the man were confrontational, Walgren said. Attempts to get him to surrender, including five rounds of tear gas, were unsuccessful, Walgren said.

The man had indicated that his brother died recently in a police shootout in Colorado and he wanted to go out the same way and take officers with him, Walgren said.

Ten to 15 homes in the area were evacuated, he said.

Loven declined to release the man’s name and said he had no information about a standoff in Colorado.

New Town Public Schools Superintendent Marc Bluestone said he heard from law enforcement shortly after 5 a.m. that a community incident was in progress.

He decided to put the schools under lockdown and not run buses on Sixth through Ninth streets. Bluestone said that area of town is blocked off by law enforcement and he believes the incident is on Ninth Street, about three blocks north of the high school.

Students were allowed to pass between classes, but they’re only allowed to leave the building if a parent picks them up, Bluestone said.

About 30 parents picked up their children out of concern for their safety, Bluestone said.

All after-school activities were canceled Wednesday. If the standoff was not resolved by today, security measures similar to those used Wednesday would be used again, Bluestone said.

“Their level of awareness and concern is higher, just because of what happened in Newtown, Conn.,” Bluestone said.

But school officials were keeping in contact with law enforcement Wednesday and believed the threat level was low, Bluestone said.

“I believe my son is a lot safer here at school than he is at home,” Bluestone said.

New Town Public Schools called off classes Nov. 19 after three students and their grandmother died in a shooting at a New Town home. The suspected gunman in that shooting, Kalcie Eagle, later killed himself.

Loven said that investigation is ongoing and the FBI plans to release a synopsis of its investigation after it’s complete.

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