A report of an armed man driving through Butler Community College in El Dorado kept the campus and at least two day care centers on lockdown for about an hour on Friday afternoon while authorities searched the town for the alleged intruder.
El Dorado Police Chief Tom Boren said there were no other sightings of the suspect Friday or the older model cream-colored truck marked with red stripes he reportedly drove.
No shots were fired, but the campus imposed an immediate lockdown of all buildings, including EduCare Center, an on-site day care caring for about 30 children Friday, Butler spokesman Ryan Entz said.
Though the report was made by an Butler employee who “thought they saw someone with a handgun,” Entz said the lockdown was prudent in light of the Dec. 14 shooting massacre that claimed 26 lives at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school.
“I think all of us are operating with a heightened sensitivity to such events, and we should err on the side of caution for the safety of everyone,” he said. “It might have been an overreaction, but probably a prudent overreaction.”
El Dorado police said another local day care also locked down Friday after receiving the report.
Those on campus Friday were mostly employees, faculty and staff, Entz said. Students finished finals last week, so classes were not in session.
Boren confirmed Friday afternoon that campus police reported the gunman, prompting the lockdown. The armed man reportedly drove through campus but did not get out of the truck, he said.
He was last seen driving northbound on Haverhill Road after leaving campus, Boren said.
The first report of the gunman came in at about 2:10 p.m.
Butler students, employees and those with children in the day care received this text from the school: “Attention: Lock your areas. Take shelter out of site. Armed intruder reported on El Dorado campus.”
Entz said an extensive search of campus buildings yielded no armed intruders. The lockdown ended around 3 p.m.
A campus public safety officer guarded the entrance to EduCare until the last child was picked up by caregivers later Friday afternoon, Entz said. The report also prompted school officials to close the campus for winter break a few hours early.
El Dorado police and Butler County sheriff’s deputies searched the town and outlying roads for the suspect for more than an hour but found no person or vehicle matching the description given, Boren said.
“A lot of people were on edge over here,” he said.
Contributing: Stan Finger and Rick Plumlee of The Eagle.