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CRYSTAL RIVER — Three schools were locked down for nearly an hour Monday morning as sheriff’s deputies searched for a suspicious man near Crystal River High School.
The man, Adrian Ferrand Jackson, 34, of Lecanto, is a “high-risk” registered sex offender wanted on parole violation on unrelated charges, sheriff’s spokeswoman Gail Tierney said.
On a day when nerves were already a little frayed as teachers and students returned to school following Friday’s shooting deaths of 20 first-graders in Newtown, Conn., the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office ordered a lockdown as a precaution as they searched through the woods for Jackson.
Crystal River Primary School Principal Donnie Brown praised her staff and students for handling the situation well.
“Everyone did an awesome job,” she said. “We did what we are trained to do. The kids were very quiet, calm and kept working.”
The incident began around 11:30 a.m. when deputies received a call about a suspicious man on a bicycle near Crystal River High School, sheriff’s spokeswoman Gail Tierney said.
When deputies approached him near the corner of N.E. 13th Terrace and N.E. Fifth Avenue, Jackson ditched his bicycle, jumped a fence and ran off into the woods.
The sheriff’s office ordered a lockdown of Crystal River Primary, Crystal River Middle and Crystal River High schools as a precaution, Tierney said. Jackson was apprehended without incident by a K-9 near the same intersection less than an hour later.
A lockout prevents visitors from entering the school and keeps students in their classrooms. At the time, community leaders involved with the United Way of Citrus County were reading in various classrooms as part of a two-day holiday reading program at the school.
Brown said the guest readers stayed in the classrooms with the students and teachers until the lockdown cleared.
She said if the lockdown unnerved anyone in her school based on Friday’s shootings in Connecticut, it didn’t show.
“I think if you didn’t know what had happened on Friday, it really was no different,” she said. “Nobody panicked. They were able to keep on teaching and keep the children calm.”
None of the schools reported any problems related to the lockdown. All three sent letters home to parents informing them of the incident.
Jackson was arrested on a Florida Parole Commission warrant charging him with parole violation on three previous felonies: Habitual fleeing and eluding; habitual grand theft; and habitual driving while license revoked or cancelled. He was held without bond.
Contact Chronicle reporter Mike Wright at 352-563-3228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.