Authorities briefly placed Burns Elementary School under lockdown Friday after a man wanted on drug charges dashed through the building while trying to escape from North Charleston police.
The suspect was unarmed and quickly exited the school before officers took him into custody. Students remained in their classrooms, and no one was injured during the 1:30 p.m. incident, police public information officer Spencer Pryor said.
The episode began when a police officer encountered the man standing in the middle of Ferrara Drive and refusing to move as vehicles approached him. After the man consented to a search, the officer found crack cocaine tucked inside the man's hat, according to a police report.
The suspect pushed the officer and ran. The officer fired a Taser stun gun but missed the suspect, who dashed across Dorchester Road and into Burns
Elementary, police said.
A school resource officer alerted school officials, who quickly locked down the school.
The school's 478 students were hustled into classrooms, the doors were locked and they remained out of sight for about 15 minutes until the incident was over, Assistant Principal Annette Sausser said.
With officers in pursuit, the suspect bolted out a side door and jumped several fences before police nabbed him on a nearby hotel's property, police said.
Police charged Shawn Jamall Townsend, 22, of North Charleston with cocaine possession, resisting arrest and disturbing schools. He was being held late Friday at the Charleston County jail.
School personnel were a bit rattled by the incident but pleased that the lockdown was accomplished in a smooth, orderly fashion, as they had trained. They commended students and planned to send a note home to parents explaining the incident.
"We're just grateful we had such an incredibly good response from our staff, and that we had practiced to the point where this was automatic," said Lynda Davis, an associate superintendent for the Charleston County School District.