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School in Portage Locked Down for Several Hours Thursday

Portage Police Department

PORTAGE - Schools were on lock down and police responded for several hours Thursday morning when the department received reports from several people regarding two men walking down the road with firearms.  Portage Police Chief Troy Williams says several calls came into the Portage Police Department at about 7:40 a.m. reporting sightings of two men walking near Fegely Middle School.

"One was reportedly carrying a rifle or a shotgun," Williams said.  "The other one was reported carrying a handgun.  Obviously given the events yesterday (Wednesday) in Florida
caused some concern to our residents and to us as a police department so we flooded the area with officers.  As we got to the scene or to the area, additional witnesses or people that were out with their kids at the bus stop reported seeing these two people as well."

Williams said police worked to try to ascertain what the mens' intentions were.  In the meantime, police decided Fegely Middle School, Portage Christian School and Myers Elementary School should go on a soft lock down.

"We kept people in the area," Williams said.  "We called out our three to 11 shifts. We had extra officers out.  We wanted officers at each school and continued to check the area.  Some of us came back to the station to work on updating the public.  And then we got information from a patrol officer who recalled seeing a memo a few weeks ago about a person riding his bike through town carrying a Bebe gun, so we tracked that information down" Williams said.  "We found where that subject lived and then found the two people in question."

Police recovered three air-soft guns, which are like bebe guns, but they look real, according to Williams.  One rifle and two pistols were recovered.  The men, who are 18 and 20 years-old, told police they were going to the woods to do some target shooting.  They were brought to the Portage Police Department for questioning and eventually released.  Police still have the air-soft guns.  Williams said the schools were on-point with their safety protocols and he is proud of the response of the Portage Police Department.

Sharon Jackson is the local host of "All Things Considered" and a reporter for Lakeshore Public Radio. She has been with 89.1 FM since its launch in 2009. Sharon is also a radio DJ in Chicago, and has been since 2004. In her previous job at Metro Networks/Westwood One, she was heard on am 890 WLS, WGN radio 720 am and am 560 WIND. She has also delivered news and traffic reports on radio stations all over Chicago and the suburbs including 95.9 The River, 98.3 WCCQ and Star 96.7.