NEW PALESTINE — A Greenfield man was arrested Tuesday after trespassing at a New Palestine elementary school, police said.
Larry M. Shrout, 48, of Greenfield was booked into the jail Tuesday afternoon on a charge of criminal trespass, a charged elevated from a misdemeanor to a Level 6 felony because the crime took place on school property, police said.
Brandywine Elementary School, 413 E. County Road 400S, was put on a brief lockdown Tuesday morning while law enforcement responded to a report of an unauthorized visitor near the school’s playground.
Shrout, who had not visited the school’s office to receive a pass to be on school grounds, was asked to leave the area by law enforcement, police said.
He returned a few minutes later, sheriff’s department officials said.
Shrout did not have any weapons with him, and school officials do not believe he posed a serious threat to student safety, they said.
The incident comes less than two weeks after a gunman killed 17 at a high school in Florida, leaving parents, students and community members on edge.
Student safety is the district’s No. 1 priority, school officials said in a news release.
Administrators encourage students, parents and community members to report any unusual activity in and around the district’s buildings via the Report a Bully form on the school’s website, newpal.k12.in.us, or directly to a school district employee.
“Our Brandywine staff exercised quick and precise judgment in immediately notifying our (school resource officers) after seeing this person near the playground. We practice our safety procedures to make sure that incidents like these are stopped before students are put at risk,” communications director Wes Anderson said in an email to the Daily Reporter. “This is an example of ‘see something, say something’ in action. Because of the actions of our staff, Brandywine students remained safe while a person not authorized to be at the school was removed from school grounds.”
Tuesday afternoon, Shrout remained in the Hancock County Jail on a $600 cash bond.
Criminal trespass is typically charged as Class A misdemeanor unless its committed on school property, a scientific research facility or a facility belonging to a public utility, in which the charge is bumped to a Level 6 felony, which carries a sentence of six months to two and a half years.