Shots were fired in Calmar early Tuesday morning, prompting a cautionary lock down of schools in Calmar and Ossian.
The shooting took place at about 7:30 a.m. as someone drove by a house about a block from the South Winneshiek High School. The vehicle of the shooter was later identified in Ossian. Sheriff Lee Bohr said no weapons were discharged in Ossian. He said no one was injured in the Calmar shooting.
At 9:15 a.m., the Winneshiek County Sheriff's Department announced it was looking for two suspects in the Ossian/Castalia area, who were wanted for an outstanding arrest warrant and considered armed and dangerous.
Residents were advised to secure their doors and vehicles and report any suspicious activity. No descriptions of the suspects were provided to the public. The South Winneshiek High School and CFS School in Calmar and the South Winneshiek Elementary/Middle School and De Sales School in Ossian were all locked down. Postville and North Fayette schools later locked down their buildings.
By 2:15 p.m. Tuesday, law enforcement gave an "all clear" ending the school lock downs. The Iowa State Patrol reported Dan Wildman, 23, of Cresco, had been apprehended in a cornfield a few miles east of Ossian where he had fled on an all-terrain vehicle. He is being held in the Winneshiek County Jail on three arrest warrants from Howard County for possession of a firearm as a felon, delivery of a controlled substance and a probation violation. The incident is under investigation ,and charges are pending.
Law enforcement officials obtained a search warrant for a shed on a farm on the edge of Ossian where Wildman left his vehicle prior to fleeing on the ATV. Bohr said the building was searched later Tuesday afternoon to make sure no one had accompanied Wildman.
The Winneshiek County Sheriff's Department and the Iowa State Patrol assisted the Calmar Police Department following the shooting incident.
Also assisting were the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Clayton County Sheriff's Department, the Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement, Decorah Police Department and Dispatch Center, Fayette County Sheriff's Department, Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, Iowa Division of Narcotic Enforcement, Ossian Fire Department First Responders and Fire Department, Winneshiek County Ambulance Service and the Winneshiek County Attorney.
Students riding the bus to school Tuesday morning were transported to the District's "crisis areas," after the lock down was initiated, according to South Winneshiek Superintendent Chris Hoover.
Students stayed on the buses up to three hours, when it was determined there was no eminent danger. Students on buses in Calmar were quickly ushered into the high school gym, and those on buses in Ossian were escorted by law enforcement to the school. Students were rapidly taken into the elementary/middle school building as law enforcement officers stood watch with their guns drawn.
"Having the students and staff members see that hit home for them," Hoover said.
While they were on the school bus, the children were provided with water and cookies and had access to bathroom facilities. But after three hours, school officials didn't know how long the lock down would continue. Although the District had plans to transport lunches to the school buses, the decision was made to move the students back to the schools.
"The students were safe. There was never danger to anybody. It was a precautionary lock down due to the fact of what was going on within the community," Hoover said.
Staff members were with the students throughout the day to ensure their safety and comfort, he said.
"I'm sure there were some students wondering what was going on. Staff members did a good job explaining, especially to the little kids, that some bad guys were out there and police officers were trying to catch them and that they were staying in the schools to keep everybody safe," Hoover said.
Wednesday morning, teachers discussed what had transpired with their students.
"They're following through with their kids today - the biggest part is to give out accurate information," he said.
A letter has been sent to South Winneshiek parents and community members from Hoover. In addition to explaining what happened, it provides information on what they should be aware of if there is a future lock down or crisis:
Radio and television will be used to provide information as needed
Parents are encouraged to stay away from school during a lock down and wait for further instructions from the District
The District is not at liberty to discuss some aspects of lock-down procedures, such as where the students are being bused or where the District's safety areas are
Use of social media, such as Twitter or Facebook, is "highly discouraged" during a lock down or crisis situation.
Hoover was grateful the District had gone through practice lock down procedures more than once last school year.
"I'm glad we had been proactive and had a couple of drills last year. We worked in conjunction with county sheriff's department and local police on how it had to happen. It was pretty easy for us to go ahead for real," he said.
"All the staff and students handled it in an excellent way. I couldn't be any more proud of the way the staff members stepped up ... everybody did what they needed to do, including the support staff and secretaries - all the calls they had to take and had to make," he said.