Petersburg police arrested 22 year-old Levi O’Connor after alleged threats prompted the lockdown of Petersburg City Schools, the Petersburg Medical Center, Petersburg Children’s Center and several other downtown businesses on Tuesday morning.
O’Connor was apprehended in front of Petersburg Medical Center with a couple of pocket knives in his possession, but officers had reason to believe he was more heavily armed.
“We received a call around 8:30 a.m. involving domestic violence,” said Petersburg Police Chief Jim Agner. “We were told the person that committed this crime had said that they were going to go out and kill some people and they had weapons, and there was a concern they had firearms as well as other weapons.”
Agner called in several officers who were off duty and most of the department went out looking for O’Connor.
According to Agner, the alleged threats did not specifically target the schools or anyone in particular but the police informed the school district as a precaution.
“We were concerned that the person could have hurt anybody and the schools are the single biggest conglomerate of people in town at any given time,” Agner said. “As part of our protocols, we called the school district and informed them of the potential danger.”
Petersburg City Schools Superintendent, Rob Thomason automatically stated he would be locking down the schools.
“Within 10 seconds of the call from Chief Agner, we were locking down the school,” Thomason said.
Thomason had the school’s alarm sound and the lockdown included interior, as well as, exterior doors and keeping the students inside the classrooms.
“Our goal is to have a heightened level of concern but not to the level of panic,” Thomason said. “Once we got organized, the teachers continued to teach because if we can demonstrate calm and confidence, it will be transferred to the students and they will keep going.”
Officials also decided to lock down the hospital, as well as the Aquatic Center where municipal elections were taking place.
“The community did a wonderful job of keeping the phone lines clear to the schools and the police department,” Agner said. “I am so proud of my staff and the community for the prompt actions involved in bringing this situation to a conclusion.”
Many businesses along Nordic Drive locked their doors as well.
“It wasn’t mandated by police for the businesses to lock-down, but I am proud of the community for acting quickly to keep people safe,” Agner stated.
The lockdown ended and voting resumed just after 10 a.m. when O’Connor was arrested.
O’Connor is being charged with third degree felony assault in connection with the domestic violence incident that prompted the original call to police.