Students and parents react to West Monroe HS lockdown
Scared and afraid - that's how students describe the frantic scene at West Monroe High School Tuesday morning.
"We just thought it was a drill at first, but after 10 minutes it came back and said it's serious," said student Randall Hughes.
Students say it was shortly after 10 a.m. when Principal Shelby Ainsworth told teachers to lock their doors and keep everyone inside.
"We were all locked in a storage closet in the shop of one of the buildings and I didn't have service in there and there were like 30 of us crammed into this little closet," said Tristen Renfrow.
According to police, a teacher in wing three saw two armed men at the school and alerted administration. Police, who are already stationed on campus, quickly detained the men. The two were identified as 57-year-old Matthew W. Hutson and 36-year-old Theodore Christopher Herr.
Hutson had a firearm visible and in a holster. Herr was carrying a concealed firearm.
"We have actually trained quite a bit on this scenario. And it also helped [that] we have a substation here at the high school. We have officers here all the time," said West Monroe Police Chief Jeff Terrell.
Kids at the school called it a wild sequence of events.
"What was going through my mind at the time, I was like, 'wow is this really happening because I didn't think it was really real because you see it all the time on the news but you don't think it'd really happen to you in real life," said Hughes.
Parents say this was one of the scariest moments of their lives. One man says he found out what was happening through a text from one of his kids.
"Naturally you're concerned because I'm a retired law enforcement officer and I know the worse can happen. You know, we don't expect it to happen here in West Monroe, Louisiana, but I also know that it can," said Bobby Avery.
Others are just grateful for the police swift action.
"I mean yeah, you see stuff on the news every day and there seems to be a new school shooting every day. So it's weird to think this could've been us," said Renfrow.
Police said the men claimed to be with a "fugitive task force" and said they were looking for someone. They were taken into custody without incident. Fugitive recovery agents are sometimes known as bounty hunters or bail recovery agents.
Police said that the men are not recovery agents or part of any fugitive task force.
According to an arrest record for Herr, he was armed with a concealed 9mm pistol. He told investigators that he believed that he was helping Hutson with "fugitive recovery." He said he thought an "unknown individual" had a warrant and he was just "tagging" along with Hutson. The report says he stated that he knew he could not have a firearm on school property and was "being stupid." Herr reportedly told police that he did not have a concealed carry permit.
Police said there is no evidence that the two men were looking to harm anyone.
They are charged with carrying a firearm or dangerous weapon by a student or nonstudent on school property, unlawful disruption of the operation of a public school, and criminal trespass. The criminal trespass charge is a misdemeanor. The other charges are felonies. They were both booked into the Ouachita Correctional Center.
The West Monroe Police Department, Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office, Louisiana State Police, Metro Narcotics, and Monroe Police Department all responded to the incident.