Schools locked down

FOLLANSBEE – A Wellsburg man has been charged with public intoxication, obstructing an officer, brandishing a weapon and making terroristic threats in connection with the investigation of reports of a suspicious person carrying an assault rifle within the vicinity of a local school Friday.

City Police Chief John Schwertfeger said Justin Charles Nixon, 38, of RD 2, Wellsburg, was charged after being apprehended by police responding to the reports of a man walking on Allegheny Street with an assault rifle at about 1:40 p.m.

Schwertfeger said Nixon matches the description provided by witnesses and though a weapon wasn’t found on his person, an assault rifle was found in a home on the street where he was staying.

Nixon was apprehended by police near the intersection of Allegheny and Linden streets, not far from Jefferson Primary School, which was locked down by Brooke County school officials after the suspicious man was reported to police.

Follansbee Middle School and Hooverson Heights Primary School also were locked down as a precaution, said Marty Bartz, Brooke County assistant superintendent.

Schwertfeger praised school officials and area law enforcement agencies, saying they responded swiftly to the reports.

City Police were assisted by the Brooke County Sheriff’s Department and Wellsburg Police in investigating the incident.

Bartz said officers from the sheriff’s departments, including prevention resource officers at Brooke County Schools; Wellsburg Police; and even Steve Himmelrick, an officer with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, escorted children from Jefferson Primary and Follansbee Middle schools to their buses or parents’ vehicles when the lockdown was lifted about an hour later, near the schools’ regular dismissal time.

The lockdown at Hooverson Heights Primary School, which is farther away, was lifted earlier.

Kathy Kidder, superintendent, said the school’s automated calling system was used to alert parents of the lockdowns, stating briefly that a suspicious person in the area was the cause.

Kidder said the school district hadn’t received any threats.