Seattle Police swarmed the blocks around Capitol Hill’s Lowell Elementary and locked down the school Wednesday afternoon after a parent escorting his child on a field trip recognized a wanted fugitive on the outing.
Police and K9 units fanned out around 12th and Mercer searching yards and inside vehicles after the suspect, 39-year-old Donald Vasser, fled as police were called to the school. The lockdown kept some students inside the school for more than two hours.
Vasser eventually turned himself into police Wednesday night.
In a statement issued after the incident, school principal Gregory King said a review was underway to find out why Vasser was allowed to accompany his child on the class outing to the Capitol Hill skating rink.
Vasser was not found by police and is believed to have fled the area. His last known address is a south Seattle location, a police officer at the scene told CHS. UPDATE: Vasser turned himself in earlier tonight. According to police, the suspect turned himself in to the King County Jail just shortly before 6:00 Wednesday evening.
UPDATE THURSDAY 12/15/11 9:10 AM: We’re trying to find out more information about the SPD’s decision to contact Vasser at the school and to try to learn more about any threats or weapons involved in the incident
but have not been able yet to speak with department spokespeople. We’re told the decision to lock down Lowell was made by the school’s administration and that SPD was responding to a call that a possibly armed felon was in the area. The administration, in turn, was responding to the parent’s report that a felon with a history of assault and weapon use was on their grounds.
The result was a swift and complete police response. Overkill? Perhaps. The situation boiled down to a parolee father escorting his child on a field trip who decided to flee when he learned the police had been called. No gun was seen. No threats were made. Assessing each level of escalation, however, it’s not clear when a different decision could have been made.
ORIGINAL REPORT AND UPDATES: SPD has Lowell Elementary surrounded and locked down this afternoon as a suspect has been tracked down to the area.