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Man with pellet gun prompts school lock down

Columbia Public Schools went on a modified lock down for the second time in a week on Friday . One week ago, multiple schools were placed on what’s called modified lock down after a gun threat was posted on a social media site. On Friday , school officials put two elementary schools on the same modified lock down after Columbia police found a soft pellet gun on a Walmart shoplifter. With two incidents in a week’s time, ABC 17 wanted to know what parents think about the schools added precaution.

A shoplifting incident at the Walmart on the corner of Broadway and Fairview prompted Columbia school officials to call a modified lock down for schools in the area . Parents said that’s just what they wanted. “I’m glad they took the extra precaution just to be on the safe side,” said Julie Brown, parent of Paxton Keeley Elementary student.

Police officials said Matthew Crain stole deli meat from the big-box store shortly after noon. Officials said officers arrested him in a nearby park. Shortly after the incident at Walmart, the two schools in the area, Paxton Keeley Elementary and Smithton Middle School, went on modified lock down for about 30 minutes.

“I think that’s for the safety of the children. I think they should actually have a guard. Even a retired policeman. You know, somebody that can stand there and watch,” said Grace Strong, grandparent of a Paxton Keeley Elementary student.

School officials said modified lock down means no one comes in or goes out of the school. However, students are still free to walk through the hallways of the building.

Earlier this month, Columbia police said they were planning to meet with school officials on how to handle emergency situations after a shooting in a park near a school went uncommunicated. ABC 17 did reach out to school officials of find out exactly what warrants a modified lock down. We haven’t yet heard back.

Police arrested Crain for misdemeanor stealing; his bond was set at with a $500.

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