Police still seeking unwelcome SMS visitor

Sequim Police continue searching this week for a man who entered Sequim Middle School the morning of Sept. 23 and ran from staff members when approached.

The unidentified man entered the school office claiming he was trying to enroll a student at the school. Instead of exiting through the nearby main doors, the man proceeded to walk toward classrooms.

Sequim schools superintendent Bill Bentley said that as soon as building staff confronted him, the man ran off and out of sight. School officials searched hallways, nearby classrooms and outside the building but were unable to find him.

"Clearly that ... (was) suspicious behavior, to have someone turn and run," Bentley said. "At that time, we didn't know

whether he had left the building or not. We weren't sure what his motive was. That's what heightened the issue for us."

School officials took precautionary measures in calling for a full lockdown of the school for the rest of the school day. Officials also notified the school resource officer and Sequim Police.

A little after the call came in at 11 a.m., at least nine law enforcement vehicles - including Sequim Police, a Clallam County Sheriff's deputy, border patrol and unmarked cars - were on school grounds.

"Just to be clear: There was no crime," said Maris Turner, Sequim Police crime prevention officer. "We never located him ... (but) we'd like to speak to him."

Students and staff remained in a full lockdown of all classrooms and outside doors for about 40 minutes until Sequim Police had searched all rooms, the roof and school campus, including the school grounds.

"When we deal with events like this, the first thing is, we want to make sure everyone is safe," Bentley said.

Cameras show the unidentified man exited the building and campus. A review of security tapes shows that the man also had been at Sequim High School just before entering the nearby middle school.

Bentley said the man had been looking into classrooms at Sequim High.

"Clearly this is someone who should not have been in our campuses," Bentley said.

"The students, school staff and law enforcement were tremendous in their response to this situation," middle school assistant principal Donna Hudson said.

Bentley echoed his praise for the staff's response.

"We take a lot of effort to make sure administrators have ways to communicate with one another," Bentley said. "All during the event, we were in radio contact with administrators. I was very pleased with the response of our staff and our students. Kids were in classrooms, doors were locked up."

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