Highland elementary school locked down after neighborhood burglary

2013-01-17T18:00:00Z 2013-01-17T23:09:05Z Highland elementary school locked down after neighborhood burglaryCarmen McCollum carmen.mccollum@nwi.com, (219) 662-5337 nwitimes.com

HIGHLAND | Johnston Elementary School went on alert Thursday morning after a burglary was reported nearby in the 3200 block of Eder Street.

School leaders canceled outdoor recess, and as an extra precaution, the school operated under a lock-in through the close of the school day. The burglary occurred about 10:50 a.m.

Highland Superintendent Michael Boskovich said police presence was increased through the day to include the immediate area around the school and bus routes.

Students who walk home were kept in school until a parent or designee was able to pick them up, Boskovich said. Basketball and after-school tutoring were held, but students were not allowed to walk home.

Johnston was the only school affected by the lock-in.

The precautions went into effect after a burglary and foot pursuit near the school, Boskovich said. The school followed all of its normal procedures to make sure "no one could get inside," he said.

Boskovich said the school sent out an alert to parents regarding the burglary and pursuit. The school has about 350 students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

Highland police Cmdr. George Georgeff said one of two men suspected in the burglary is in custody. Investigators know the identity of the second man, though he was not apprehended as of press time, police said.

Georgeff said the two men were pursued after an observant neighbor saw someone in a nearby house. The neighbor contacted the homeowner by cellphone.

The homeowner arrived to see a man running out of his house and into a vehicle. Farther away, a neighbor saw the car's license plate and a second man inside the vehicle. Both men got out of the car and took off running across Ridge Road.

Officers caught one of the men, who was identified as Darien Baez, 18, of 8808 Houston Ave., Chicago, police said.

Baez was wearing an ankle bracelet monitoring device that had been cut off, Georgeff said. Authorities determined Baez had a felony warrant from the Illinois Department of Corrections for a parole violation related to unlawful possession of a firearm and dangerous drugs, he said.

Police are searching for a man identified as Timothy Colbern, 35, of 1120 E. Indiana St., Hammond, Georgeff said. Colbern is believed to be the uncle of Baez, police said.

Anyone who has information about Colbern is asked to contact the Highland Police Department at (219) 838-3184.

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