Student pickup was a little more hectic than usual Wednesday at Madge T. James Kindergarten Center because of the possibility a dangerous fugitive was nearby.

Search for federal fugitive causes alternative exit from three schools

Fugitive was in Joplin instead

Suspicion that a dangerous fugitive was in a house in the 700 block of North Liberty Street Wednesday afternoon caused a lot of confusion but nothing else for nearby schools.

Police Chief Don Melton says his department was called to the vicinity at 12:43 p.m. Wednesday to assist Jasper County Sheriff’s deputies in their attempt to apprehend a dangerous federal fugitive.

The location is within a block of to the south of Webster Primary Center and Madge T. James Kindergarten Center. Webb City Middle School is also in the vicinity.

Melton said school officials were notified to go into a soft lockdown, which means children and staff are kept inside. 

When school was out, police blocked off streets and directed buses and parents picking up their children to alternate pickup spots.

In the case of the kindergarten center, children were escorted out the north side of the building to departing buses and west to Pennsylvania Street, where the line of parent vehicles was directed. Buses normally pick up students on the south side of the building, and parents circle close to the entrance.

After all that, the fugitive was taken into custody without incident in Joplin.

“We appreciate the working relationship between law enforcement and the school district to rapidly adapt as the situation evolved,” Melton said. “The safety of our students and citizens is a priority.  We appreciate everyone’s patience while we dealt with today’s incident.”

School officials treated the soft lockdown and alternate pickup procedure as a learning experience.

And it justified the School Board’s purchase of a new emergency communication system just the night before.

Kindergarten students were escorted out the back of the school to buses on Stadium Drive.

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