A Springfield area man is behind bars at the Lawrence County Jail after breaking into Trinity Lutheran School in Freistatt during the early morning hours of Oct. 16.
Lawrence County deputies had responded earlier to a domestic violence call claiming the suspect, Michael W. Parker, was making threats and had taken off on foot carrying a gun. At that time, deputies were unable to locate the suspect.
"A fire alarm went off at Trinity Lutheran School," said Lawrence County Sheriff Brad DeLay. "When firefighters from Freistatt and Monett responded, they discovered broken glass. At that time they called us, because there was something else going on."
Deputies received a call stating there was a man with a gun inside the school.
"That was about the time church was supposed to start," DeLay said. "There was some concern as to what [Parker's] intentions were."
Officers discovered broken windows on the north side of the school and determined the suspect had snuck out of the building.
Moments later, officers received information concerning a man with a gun walking along Farm Road 2170, and they initiated a pursuit.
"When the suspect saw the officers, he took off running across a field," DeLay said. "He was held at gunpoint and ordered to drop his weapon."
Officers apprehended the suspect, who was taken to an area hospital for a mental evaluation.
"We have several charges pending against the suspect," DeLay said.
Authorities are seeking burglary, unlawful use of a weapon and other charges in connection with the case.
Carole Kleiboeker, principal at Trinity Lutheran School, said the alarms worked exactly as they were supposed to.
"The man broke through the door at the north breezeway," Kleiboeker said. "He went upstairs and used something to break the window in a paneled door. Apparently, he couldn't get out, so he pulled two fire alarms."
"[The suspect] went downstairs and exited the building by the restrooms near the fellowship hall in the school," Kleiboeker said.
Kleiboeker reported that school was in session today [Monday], and that attendance was normal.
"We want to reassure parents and students that the lock- down procedure worked exactly as intended and that students and staff are safe," Kleiboeker said. "We really appreciate Monett Glass responding so quickly on Sunday to make repairs, so we could get school back in session immediately."